SAN DIEGO — The Mets don’t have Lucas Duda to kick around anymore. The often-maligned first baseman was dealt to the Rays before Thursday’s game for minor league relief prospect Drew Smith.
Smith was the Tigers’ third-round pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft out of Dallas Baptist University before being acquired by Tampa Bay on April 28, 2017 as the player to be named later to complete an earlier trade that sent Mikie Mahtook to Detroit on January 18, 2017.
Smith, 23, was just promoted to Double-A at the beginning of this month.
In 79 career minor league games, all relief appearances, Smith is 5-4 with a 1.80 ERA with 13 saves and 140 strikeouts.
Upon being acquired by the Mets he was assigned to Binghamton to join the team’s Double-A affiliate.
While the Mets front office began their sell-off of a disappointing team, within the visitors’ clubhouse in Petco Park, players looked on as Duda’s locker was being packed up.
While a Mets source said that first-base prospect Dom Smith would likely be coming up to take Duda’s spot within the next few days, on Thursday Jay Bruce slid into that spot.
Terry Collins said he was not told anything about Smith coming up yet. The Mets manager had just talked to Duda in his office and said it was never easy to see a long-term player leave.
“But that’s the game itself, got to be able to adjust. We’ll adjust tonight. Tremendous part of this team for a long time and we wish him all the best and thank him for everything he did in New York,” Collins said. “He was very responsible for our success in 2015-16.”
Duda was drafted by the Mets in 2007, made his major-league debut in 2010 and played 760 games with the Mets. Duda’s 125 home runs in a Mets uniform are seventh-most in team history and his 71 homers at Citi Field are the most in the ballpark’s history.
Standing in front of it, wearing a Mets T-shirt for likely the last time, Duda said he knew there was a possibility he would be moved now that the Mets are so far out of contention and he is a free agent this winter.
Still, it was not easy for him.
“I’ve heard rumors and stuff. It’s part of the game, but you don’t really know until it comes to fruition,” said Duda. “I have mixed emotions. The guys here, I have grown close to. I am very proud to have been a New York Met. Like I said, a first-class organization from top to bottom.
“And, I’ll be very proud to be a Ray.”
Duda may take away fond memories of his time in New York, but Mets fans — and some in the organization — were tough on the lumbering 31-year old. Many blamed his error in Game 5 of the 2015 World Series for the Mets loss.
Duda, however, remembers the run to the 2015 World Series as the highlight of his time in New York. And now he hopes to get another taste of the playoff with the Rays.
“I am blessed to be in the situation I am in,” Duda said. “The Mets are a first class organization top to bottom, I enjoyed my time here and I am excited to join the Rays. They are in the hunt and that should be fun.”