The Mets will be without right-handed reliever Drew Smith for the entirety of the 2019 season, as manager Mickey Callaway announced to reporters today that Smith will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow tomorrow (Twitter link via Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). Smith had recently complained of soreness in his elbow and traveled back to New York to have the elbow examined.
Smith, 25, made his MLB debut with the Mets in 2018, pitching to a 3.54 ERA with 5.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.64 HR/9 and a 38 percent ground-ball rate in 28 innings of relief. He’d pitched his way into that big league promotion with a solid showing in the hitter-friendly confines of Triple-A Las Vegas, where he posted a 2.76 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 33 2/3 innings of work.
Acquired in the trade that sent first baseman Lucas Duda to the Rays in July 2017, Smith looked to have the potential to serve as a prominent piece in the Mets’ relief corps in 2019. While New York already has a quintet of established relievers — Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman — there were at least a pair of openings for which Smith and others could vie in camp. And, if at some point during the season, the Mets were to switch to an eight-man bullpen, the opportunities for Smith would only have increased.
Instead, he’ll sit out the season and spend the year rehabbing with an eye toward 2020 and beyond. The Mets still control Smith through at least the 2024 season, and it’s likely that he’ll accrue a year of service by spending the 2019 campaign on the Major League 60-day injured list (thus allowing the Mets to open a spot on the 40-man roster).