The Rays surprisingly rank seventh in baseball in home runs, but on Thursday they made a move for another power bat, acquiring lefty masher Lucas Duda from the Mets for righthanded reliever Drew Smith.
Duda will primarily DH for the Rays, who already have Logan Morrison at first base. The trade allows Corey Dickerson to move into the outfield for the Rays, who saw Colby Rasmus step away from the game for personal reasons.
For the Mets, the move allows the team to add another promising young arm and also clear the path for Dominic Smith, the team’s first baseman of the future, to arrive from Triple-A Las Vegas before long.
Drew Smith, rhp
Smith, a third-round pick of the Tigers in 2015, was part of a high-powered bullpen at Dallas Baptist, along with Yankees prospect Chance Adams and righthander Brandon Koch, who is in the Rays organization. The calling card for Smith, acquired by the Rays in April for center fielder Mikie Mahtook, is his high-octane fastball, which he can push to 98 mph when he needs it. Smith also throws a curveball with 12-to-6 shape and has a changeup that he doesn’t use often. Smith does have a high-effort delivery and did deal with some minor injuries in 2016. He profiles as a setup man.
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Lucas Duda, 1b
Duda is known to be streaky, strikes out about a quarter of the time, is a below-average hitter at this time and is an average defender at best but he has legitimate power. He also takes walks, with his 12.7 percent walk rate this season a little above his career rate. He hits righthanded pitchers well (.486 SLG) in his career but is neutralized by lefthanders, so he’ll likely see the majority of his playing time against righties. He can be a free agent after the season.
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