On July 27, 2017, the New York Mets traded slugger Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays for pitcher Drew Smith. It was the first of a series of moves by the team to sell major league pieces nearing free agency for young players.
The deal turned into a pretty good one for New York. It’s one of possibly only two notable Mets trades where they sold at the deadline and came away as the winner. The only other we can file in that same category is the Zack Wheeler for Carlos Beltran trade from a few years prior.
The Mets beat the Rays in the Drew Smith for Lucas Duda trade
Duda’s major league career is already over but not after putting together several productive years with the Mets. He logged 125 total home runs for them and was one of their more prolific sluggers during a time when there wasn’t much winning until the very end of his tenure.
On the Rays, Duda continued to hit for a lot of power but not do much else. He slashed .175/.285/.444 for them in his 200 plate appearances while smacking 13 home runs. He wouldn’t appear in the postseason for them but did eventually see three October at-bats for the Atlanta Braves in 2018.
You know a whole lot more about what happened to Smith after this trade because that journey is ongoing. He showed promising signs in 2018 before missing all of the 2019 campaign. When he returned in 2020, he got a handful of innings. Like most of the pitchers on that team, he wasn’t all that productive.
Then came the 2021 season. It was the return of Mets fans wondering if he could indeed be a big part of the bullpen. In his 41.1 innings of work, Smith was 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA. Up until recently, he was doing similar things for the club in 2022. Buck Showalter has trusted him plenty but some recent struggles right before the 5-year anniversary of this trade has lifted his ERA up closer to a far more average number for a reliever.
At 28, Smith’s future remains a little uncertain. This season has already included the most appearances he has ever had in the majors. No longer a young relief pitcher, he has also yet to get to the age where we fully know what he can or cannot do. The jury remains out on him.
But what makes the Smith for Duda trade so memorable for the Mets might be how much they missed on other deals during that miserably 2017 trade deadline. This is already an outlier trade among all seller deals the Mets have made at the trade deadline made more noticeable by all of the ineffective deals that soon followed it.
The Rays have a reputation for winning a lot of trades. In this case, the Mets were able to snag a nice arm.