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Braves signs contract with Will Smith for three-year deal on MLB's first substantial free agency change



In the first surprise of the winter, Atlanta Braves agreed with southpaw Will Smith on a three-year deal worth $ 39 million, the club announced. The deal includes a $ 13 million club option for 2023, with a $ 1 million purchase, by Jeff Passan from ESPN.

Entering the off season, here at CBS Sports, we ranked Smith as the 17th best free agent on the market (here is the top 50 complete) Here is what we wrote:

Smith may end up being the best reliever available. His free agency comes at a good time, as he has saved 48 games in the previous two seasons – showing that he is more than capable of handling the ninth. The key to its success is its slider, as the scouts smelled almost half of the swings that led to the pitch. Smith doesn't play hard – well, not by today's standards – but as long as he has his health and his ball broken, he will remain an effective rescuer.

Smith, 30, has reaffirmed his status as one of baseball's best left-handed players since losing the 2017 season due to injury. Over the past two years, he has compiled 118 entries, with a rate of 2.66 ERA (151 ERA +) and 4.64 strike / walk ratio. As noted above, the key to his game is his trademark slider and he acted as the closest San Francisco Giants during the 2019 season.

Smith, an All-Star in 2019, will take on endgame duties for Atlanta, although the team still intends to use Mark Melancon as their next, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Defending champions of the East National League attempted to fix their bullpen within the past year, acquiring Mark Melancon, Shane Greene and Chris Martin through negotiations. Unfortunately, it was not enough.

Braves remain active in front of the bullpen as winter continues. It is worth noting that Martin is a free agent and could theoretically return to Atlanta if both sides find mutual ground. Braves will also need to approach third base and can add a veteran pitcher.

Since Smith has received the qualifying offer and the Braves are a profit sharing club, they must sacrifice their third largest draft selection in addition to being part of their free agent international bonus pool. The Braves could retrieve a pick if Josh Donaldson leaves. Atlanta has been linked to some other free agents who have received the qualifying offer – Anthony Rendon and Madison Bumgarner – so that Braves ends up sacrificing additional choices and bonus pool money to build a pennant candidate.


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