Last year, the New York Mets traded Lucas Duda for minor league relief pitcher Drew Smith. The early results suggest the Mets are the winners in this swap.
Among all of the seller trades made by the New York Mets over the last two seasons, a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays is paying off the most.
Shortly before the 2017 trade deadline, the Mets sent slugger Lucas Duda to the Rays in exchange for minor league pitcher Drew Smith. Smith is no longer a minor leaguer, now with the big league club and pitching very well.
Through his first 11 big league innings, Smith has a 1.64 ERA. He has yet to discover his strikeout pitch, averaging under five strikeouts per nine.
Nevertheless, the first nearly dozen innings of his MLB career have gone well. It’s very early in Smith’s career, but we can certainly hold onto some hope that he’s one of the youngsters who finds a way into the bullpen next year.
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Already, we’ve seen guys like Jacob Rhame fail in relief. The verdict on Tyler Bashlor has yet to be determined, but I’m leaning toward the negative side. In the case of older guys like Bobby Wahl and Tim Peterson, I’m already there.
Smith’s recent outing on Thursday to replace Steven Matz showed a lot of tenacity. In a game that could have gotten out of hand, Smith tossed two scoreless frames against the Philadelphia Phillies. He has now gone seven straight scoreless innings this season. Out of his nine appearances, he has only allowed a run in two of them.
The 24-year-old righty is making a strong early case to pitch in the 2019 bullpen. The relief corps will have several openings either from departing free agents or through other means such as underperformers. Smith may not fit in as a major role-player.
However, those middle innings need a reliable arm in them. While Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo may begin the year as the best options in the seventh or eighth inning, Smith may make a case to become the best choice in the sixth.
When compared to the other trades made by the Mets, swapping Duda for Smith has paid off most.
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Still far too soon to truly know, it’s deals like this the Mets must continue to win.