SAN DIEGO — Lucas Duda, the slugging first baseman who improbably became one of the Mets’ longest-tenured players, was traded to the Rays on Thursday in the beginning of what’s expected to be a sell-off leading up to Monday’s trade deadline.
In exchange for Duda, the Rays sent minor-league righthander Drew Smith, who owns a 97 mph fastball and a power curveball that could one day make him a key piece in the bullpen.
The trade went down before the Mets’ 7-5 loss to the Padres, who knocked around Chris Flexen for four runs (three earned) on five hits in a big league debut that lasted just three innings. Flexen, 23, walked four as he became the first Mets starter since Mike Pelfrey in 2007 to jump from Double-A to the big leagues.
But trading Duda established that on-field results would be mostly secondary. With the trade deadline coming on Monday, the Mets have clearly shifted their focus from the present to the future.
Smith, the Rays’ 30th-best prospect, according to MLB.com, was chosen by the Tigers in the third round of the 2015 draft. The 23-year-old was traded to the Rays in January as the player to be named in a deal for outfielder Mikie Mahtook. He has a 1.60 ERA in 31 games in 2017 between four different levels in the Rays’ organization.
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