If the Atlanta Braves decide to sell in any capacity at this trade deadline, they should consider shopping Will Smith.
With a few weeks remaining before the trade deadline, it is anyone’s guess if the Atlanta Braves will be buyers, sellers, or both this season. With a tough schedule coming out of the break, the Braves could easily find themselves well out of the division race by the end of July, and that might mean they move on from their closer, Will Smith.
If the Braves do become sellers at this year’s deadline, I think there is one move they need to consider making and that is moving Will Smith.
Now, I like Smith and think he has been better than given credit for at times, but it would make sense for the Braves to move him if they are indeed sellers at the deadline. Before we talk about moving Smith, let us begin by taking a look at his 2021 season.
In thirty-nine games, Smith’s 2021 looks like: 37.2 innings pitched, 18 saves, 3.58 ERA, 11.71 K/9, 2.87 BB/9, and 0.96 HR/9.
Overall, that is a really strong line. Now, take a look at more advanced metrics:
- xERA: 2.99
- FIP: 3.06
- xFIP: 3.76
- xBA: .200
- xSLG: .325
- wOBA: .279
- xwOBA: .266
- xwOBAcon: .342
- Hard Hit%: 37%
- K%: 31.6%
- BB%: 7.7%
The metrics back up the notion that Smith is having a strong season. He might not be a lockdown closer, but he is a reliable option at the backend of the bullpen.
It is important to note that this article is looking at this option if the Braves decide to become sellers. The Braves are in an interesting spot in that they could easily be atop the NL East in a couple weeks or they could be out of the race entirely.
However, if the Braves are not going to be contenders this year, it would make sense to shop Smith. Every year, contenders look to improve their bullpens at the deadline because of the importance they play during the playoffs.
There are a few teams in the playoff race that could use some help in the bullpen.
The Chicago White Sox rank 11th in bullpen ERA (3.88), the Oakland A’s are 12th (3.95), the Toronto Blue Jays are 13th (3.97), and the Houston Astros are 16th (4.09). These teams have decent bullpens but could benefit from adding a player like Smith.
There is one team that has a great offense, solid pitching, but is being brought down by a terrible bullpen. That would be the Cincinnati Reds, who have a bullpen ERA of 5.15 (27th).
There could be a few teams interested in adding Will Smith for a playoff push. If teams call about Smith, the Braves should listen.
How should the Atlanta Braves go about shopping Will Smith if they decide to make him available? Well, I believe there are two strategies they should consider.