Smith posted a 1.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 6:3 K:BB through 5.1 innings before spring training was suspended. The veteran left-hander is set to fill a high-leverage role for Atlanta this season after putting together back-to-back excellent campaigns for San Francisco in 2018-19. Mark Melancon will get first crack at the ninth inning, but Smith should still get occasional save chances against lefty-heavy lineups, and he would likely be the next man up at closer if Melancon falters.
Smith will primarily work in a high-leverage setup role for Altanta, but manager Brian Snitker said he wouldn't hesitate to use the 30-year-old to close, David O'Brien of The Athletic reports. Mark Melancon is considered the team's primary ninth-inning option right now, and the new rule requiring a pitcher to face at least three batters would seem to prevent Snitker from using the southpaw Smith to face only one or two tough left-handed hitters to close out the ninth. Nonetheless, Smith had the better overall season of the two in 2019, and if Melancon falters, the free-agent signee will be next in line for closing duties.
Smith signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Braves on Thursday. Despite receiving a qualifying offer from the Giants, Smith landed a three-year deal with Atlanta after recording 34 saves and a 96:21 K:BB in 2019. The contract includes a club option for 2023 worth $13 million. The 30-year-old will join Atlanta's crowded bullpen that includes arms such as Mark Melancon, Luke Jackson and Shane Greene, so it's unclear whether Smith will perform as a full-time closer in 2020.
Smith received a qualifying offer from the Giants on Monday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Smith's decision on whether or not to accept the one-year, $17.8 million deal may be the toughest among the 10 players who were given the offer Monday. The draft-pick penalty which will now be assigned to him may dampen the market for the 30-year-old reliever even though he recorded 34 saves and a 2.76 ERA last season.
Smith (6-0) picked up the win against the Rockies on Wednesday after tossing a perfect inning with three strikeouts. Smith came into a tied ninth inning and retired the side in order with three consecutive punchouts. Teammate Jaylin Davis then hit a walkoff home run in the bottom of the frame to gift Smith and the Giants with the win. Across 63 games this season, the 30-year-old closer has tallied 34 saves with a 2.76 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.
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