Dumping Will Smith’s salary could benefit the roster in 2022
While I think Smith has been a solid reliever in 2021, there is an argument that the free agent signing of Smith for three years and $39 million dollars was a pretty bad move on the part of Alex Anthopoulos.
So, if the Braves were to become sellers at the deadline, it would be really beneficial to get out of paying Smith $13 million in 2022. This would allow them to use that money to fill holes elsewhere.
Saving the additional $13 million could benefit a mid-market team like the Braves who could use that to sign multiple relievers or a position player in the offseason. Even if they have to toss some money to help pay for Smith for the remainder of this year, this added flexibility in payroll for 2022 could be an attractive option for the Braves.
The issue with this strategy is that the Braves would not be getting a great prospect back. If the Braves are asking a team to pay most, if not all, of Smith’s salary in 2022, then the return would most likely be minimal.
At best, they could maybe get a lottery ticket on a kid in rookie ball or a reclamation project of a former top guy that has fallen out of favor.
I know it is not “sexy” to get trade away a guy for basically nothing. However, if the Braves were able to use the money saved to improve the roster in multiple areas for the 2022 season, then it justifies the move.
We have heard the term financial flexibility several times over the past few years, but if that flexibility allows the Braves to build a better team in 2022, then it is something the Braves should consider. The financial flexibility would help the Braves in 2022, while a prospect might help the team in a few years.
There are a few ways the Braves could approach this deadline, and there are no guarantees they would even consider moving Smith. However, I think it is something that they should at least be considering.
If they can use him to buy a decent prospect, then they improve a middle of the pack farm system. If they can save some money in 2022 by getting rid of his contract, then it could help the Braves get back on track next season.
Whatever the Atlanta Braves decide to do, I hope it works out for the best of the club, and we are talking about the Braves being title contenders again in the near future.