The name Will Smith is so popular in our culture that not only do we have to differentiate it between ballplayers, but we also need to specify there will be no references to punching Chris Rock when discussing this particular man. This Will Smith, a lefty reliever now 33 years old, is someone the New York Mets could consider as another southpaw out of their bullpen.
Smith has been a well-known relief pitcher for about a decade now. With several stops and different roles out of the bullpen, he’s coming off of a year that saw him get traded from the Atlanta Braves to the Houston Astros. Despite not appearing in the postseason for Houston, it does mean he got rings in consecutive years.
Seasoned, left-handed, and a guy with some impressive points on his resume, could the Mets welcome him to their roster next season?
The case for the Mets to sign free agent reliever Will Smith
Smith had two very different runs last year. With the Braves he had a 4.38 ERA in 37 innings. As a member of the Astros he had a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings.
Differences went beyond the ERA. Smith was walking a ton of bats for the Braves, averaging 5.1 per 9 innings of work. He settled down to an unsustainable yet strong 1.6 walks per 9 with the Astros.
The overall season numbers for Smith last year and even in 2021 weren’t impressive enough for a closer. His two and a half years with the Braves wasn’t so memorable, ending with a 5-10 record, 3.87 ERA, and 42 saves.
The Mets wouldn’t need him in those situations. He would actually get somewhat buried in their bullpen, possibly even giving way to Brooks Raley as the better option to face lefties. Smith is certainly someone who could help the Mets out in earlier innings and possibly even work himself into the mix for the seventh or eighth as long as he does implode as he did too often for Atlanta.
It’s hard to know exactly what it is Smith would be looking for in free agency. Does he want to go for the three-peat? He got paid good money over the last three seasons by the Braves with a $13 million salary in each year.
Smith, a native of Georgia, won’t be returning home either after the Braves traded him. Where does this leave the veteran southpaw?
There are definitely teams out there that can provide Smith with more high-leverage opportunities than the Mets. Edwin Diaz is their closer with David Robertson likely to be the alternate with his history in the role. Adam Ottavino is in the mix, too, leaving Smith as almost an afterthought in the Flushing bullpen if he chose to sign here.
Another lefty reliever is the biggest need for the Mets aside from getting Carlos Correa’s deal worked out. Is Smith it?
At a reasonable price, the ceiling should be tempting enough. Smith has achieved a lot already as a player and with the teams he has played for. Vengeance on the Braves and a third World Series win with as many teams is one pitch to convince him to sign with the Mets. This still doesn’t answer whether or not they view him as the best choice.