Why the Mets should engage the Tampa Bay Rays in trade talks regarding Dominic Smith
The last team on the list as a potential trading partner is a wild card in a sense that the team already has an excellent offense. However, from the Mets perspective, trading with this particular team may be worth exploring, given this team’s abundance of quality pitching depth.
The team in question is the Tampa Bay Rays.
In 2021, when Ji-man Choi went down, the Rays had Jordan Luplow and Yandy Diaz receive the majority of playing time at the position. However, both players are better suited at other positions: Luplow is a natural outfielder and would be better suited playing there, and Yandy Diaz should receive the most assignments at third base, which was his usual position.
Although Choi will be back in 2022 and will be healthy to start the season, injuries have always been a concern for him, and he only appeared in 83 games last year. Smith would be a good partner to Choi, and both of them could split the time between first base and designated hitter while playing every day. Doing so would prevent either player from potentially being overextended, and it also ensures that the Rays will always have two power hitting left-handed hitters in the lineup, something that many teams do not have the personnel for. It gives the Rays offense another distinct advantage over their competitors in the American League East.
Smith is also under club control for three more years. This means that his acquisition will not break the Rays’ budget by any means, and it would enable them to get starter-level production at a key position without paying starter-level price. For a small market team like the Rays, these type of contracts are generally desirable when constructing their roster.
The Rays are a team that values versatility as well, so Smith could even play some left field if Rays manager Kevin Cash needs him to. Given Smith's increased ability to play multiple positions, it also helps Smith make the case that he belongs in the lineup regularly, seeing how he can help from multiple positions.
The Rays also have one of the deepest pitching depths of any major league club. Given the Mets need for pitching depth, taking a long look at the Rays pitchers may be in the team's best interest,
Whether the Mets trade Dominic Smith before Opening Day remains to be seen. However, given Smith's career goals and the current construction of the team's roster, a trade would be mutually beneficial for both parties.