Shelley Duncan is finally free.
After nine years of indentured servitude in the New York Yankees’ farm system, Duncan is a free agent for the first time.
Unfortunately, Duncan is no longer the long-ball hitting prospect who was drafted in the second-round of the 2001 draft.
He’s now a 30-year-old with just 68 games and 146 at-bats in the big leagues on his resume.
Duncan, the son of St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan, is best remembered for his thunderous debut in the Bronx back in 2007.
Through his first 16 games, Duncan looked like the second-coming of Babe Ruth (or Shane Spencer).
Duncan hit an astounding .317/.391/.756 with six home runs and 13 RBIs in his first 46 big league at-bats. He looked like a star on the rise, until someone decided to start tossing him breaking balls.
He only received another 37 at-bats after his hot start, and rightfully so, over his next 18 games, Duncan “hit” .182/.250/.303 with one home run and four RBIs, all the while piling up strikeouts.
In the two years that followed his Jekyll and Hyde debut, Duncan has only appeared in 34 games, amassing a total of 72 at-bats.
Duncan hasn’t exactly made the most out of his limited opportunities, having produced a dreadful .181/.250/.264 batting line with just one home run and seven runs batted in over various stints the last two seasons.
Numerous teams could show interest in Duncan who can play either corner of the outfield or first base. He’s not going to win any Gold Gloves, but he isn’t a butcher in the field either.
Duncan has shown that he can hit left-handed pitching pretty well and, if nothing else, could serve as part of a platoon.
He did, however, post a cumulative line of .271/.368/.533 with 68 home runs and 226 RBIs in parts of four seasons at Triple-A.
In those four partial seasons his total at-bats equaled out to roughly two-full seasons of big league at-bats, thus making his production all the more impressive.
Obviously, the big-time power potential is there, so a starting gig isn’t entirely out of the question.
Given his attachment to the city of New York, it is conceivable that Duncan could sign-on with the Yankees’ cross-town rival, the New York Mets.
The Mets currently have question marks at both left field and first base. Additionally, the club is looking to add more power to the lineup.
The Mets are just one of many logical options for Duncan.
The St. Louis Cardinals are another seemingly perfect fit.
Duncan could be reunited with his father and—barring the club’s attempts to bring back Matt Holliday—there may be an opening in left field next season.
These are just two of the potentially limitless options Duncan should have this offseason.
He is finally free and should be able to choose from what should be a hearty stock of suitors this offseason.
His positional flexibility and power potential will make him intriguing to numerous clubs looking for cheaper alternatives to high-priced marquee free agents.
Duncan should use his new found freedom to choose a team that offers him the one thing the Yankees failed to in nearly a decade, a real opportunity.