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Mets Trade Lucas Duda to Rays

The Mets will get pitching prospect Drew Smith in exchange for the first baseman. 

The New York Mets have traded first baseman Lucas Duda to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Drew Smith, the team announced Thursday. 

The trade was first reported by Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan

Duda, who will be a free agent after this season, provides a power boost to a Rays team that's just 2.5 games behind the AL East-leading Red Sox. The 31-year-old is hitting .246/.347/.532 with 17 home runs and 37 RBIs on the season. Duda helps assuage the absence of Colby Rasmus, who stepped away from baseball in July after dealing with injuries all season. 

Duda joins the Rays ahead of a crucial stretch for the team. Tampa Bay is in New York for a four-game series against the Yankees, followed by another four-game series in Houston. 

Smith was not listed in Baseball America's midseason list of the Rays' top ten prospects, but his value has been rising as a potential late-game option. 

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It's likely that Duda will DH for the Rays, as Tampa Bay's everyday first baseman Logan Morrison is having a solid season, batting .250 with 26 home runs. The Rays' current DH, Corey Dickerson, was an All-Star this season, but he is hitting .186 (14-for-74) with just 1 home run in his last 20 games. Dickerson is capable of playing in left field—which opens up the DH spot—while Duda has not played anywhere besides first base since 2014.

Tampa Bay has been active ahead of Monday's trade deadline in an effort to add pieces that can help down the stretch. The Rays acquired reliever Dan Jennings from the White Sox earlier Thursday.

The move makes sense for the Mets, as Duda was reportedly going to leave New York in free agency at the end of this season. New York is 13.5 games behind the Nationals in the NL East and 9 games out of the final Wild Card spot.