At the 2017 trade deadline, the New York Mets were sellers. They targeted relievers in the market. They traded reliever Addison Reed to the Red Sox for three reliever prospects in Stephen Nogosek, Gerson Bautista, and Jamie Callahan.
This trade was alright, they sent Bautista to Seattle in the Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz trade, and Nogosek just threw three scoreless innings for the Mets while Reed was never the same as he was as a Met.
Another trade they made was sending Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for a player to be named later which eventually became reliever Jacob Rhame. This trade was pretty irrelevant as both players struggled.
The best trade the Mets made at that deadline was trading Lucas Duda to the Rays in exchange for another reliever, Drew Smith.
This trade has the potential to be one of the biggest fleeces in Mets history. Despite being one of the best infielders in franchise history, Duda struggled in Tampa Bay and was out of the league after the 2019 season. However, Drew Smith has turned into an elite reliever and will be that for a long time.
During his time at the big league level, Smith has quietly been productive whenever he's had a chance to be. He's dealt with injuries and hasn't always had the opportunity to showcase his talent, but he is in my opinion, the second best reliever in this Mets bullpen.
He was first called up in 2018 and pitched effectively in his 27 appearances. Overall he has a 2.78 ERA in 79 appearances pitching in all different kinds of roles whether that's serving as a multi-inning reliever or a set-up man.
So far this season Smith has made 13 appearances and has pitched 14.1 innings. In those innings he has not allowed a home run, he's struck out 11.9/9, and has allowed just 3.1 H/9.
The one issue he's had is throwing strikes consistently. He's walked 5.0/9 so far after posting a 3.5 BB/9 last year. Smith walked two in his last appearance which led to his first run allowed of the season after pitching 13.1 scoreless innings to begin the year.
Smith ranks in the 92nd percentile in K% and the 88th percentile in whiff rate according to baseball savant. A big reason for that is his new slider. Smith used to throw a cutter but decided to turn that pitch into more of a slider and it's his best pitch. Hitters have just one hit in 23 at bats against that pitch this season with 13 strikeouts. That pitch has generated a 35.1% whiff rate.
Smith has to do a better job throwing strikes. If he does, he's so hard to hit. He proved it on Friday night when he allowed his run and had a runner on third with nobody out. He found the zone and proceeded to strike out the next two hitters and then generate a pop up. He did that against the heart of the Mariners order.
Smith has recently become the Mets eighth inning man which is exactly where he should be. He's a guy who can get righties and lefties out and has proven he can get the job done in high leverage spots.
At 28 years old Smith is becoming a dominant reliever and with his willingness to improve, he will only get better. He has to work on the walks, which I'm sure he will. Other than that all he has to do is just stay healthy and the sky is the limit for Drew Smith.