In a trade that sent former homegrown fan favorite slugger Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Mets would receive a 23-year old right handed reliever with a high ceiling in Drew Smith. While his 2020 statistics may not justify the attention that I’m giving, the now 27-year old may be looking at a make or break 2021 season.
The former third round pick by the Detroit Tigers would have a pretty decent 2018 campaign with the Mets in his first crack at the Major League level. He pitched to a 3.54 ERA throughout 28 innings but only struck out 18 while opponents hit .309 off the righty.
However early in 2019 during Spring Training, his career would end up being put on hold as the Fort Worth, Texas native would require Tommy John Surgery causing him to miss the entire season.
Smith owns a plus fastball that can hit 97 MPH on the radar gun, alongside a curveball, change-up, and even a brand new cutter in which he learned by watching Clayton Kershaw has been added to his repertoire.
“He’s got a good repertoire, adding that cutter,” Mets manager Luis Rojas said. “It can make the fastball play a little more.”
Unfortunately, Smith hasn’t had much opportunity this season and has only appeared in eight games. Throughout those seven innings, Smith posted a 6.43 ERA as well as an improved 1.14 WHIP and averaged a strikeout per inning.
Now while it’s no where near safe to assume that the 2021 bullpen will be looking the same, if it were, Smith would have decent shot at making the roster. At only 27 years old, Smith still has a lot to offer the Mets ‘pen and has more to offer for more than just one season. But Smith seems to understand that this process will be one step at a time, one day at a time.
“I’m just doing everything I can, doing the best I can trying to show them that I’m healthy and ready to go,” Smith said. “Whenever I get my chance — whether it be Opening Day, whether it be a week after — I’ll be ready to go. And I’m excited to be back out there.”
If he does figure it out and start putting it together, he will be a cheap bullpen piece. Smith will enter his first year of Free Agency in 2025 and will be eligible for arbitration in 2022.
Quotes sourced from MLB.com