Smith's offensive skills could give him an upper hand in the backup catcher job battle, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. Smith is battling Michael Perez and Chris Herrmann to slot in behind starting backstop Mike Zunino. Smith is the only right-handed hitter among the trio -- perhaps not an asset for a job behind the right-handed hitting Zunino -- but he's also coming off a 2019 season with the Angels during which he posted career highs in exit velocity (89.4 mph) and expected batting average (.294). While Smith's average slumped to a still-serviceable .251 last season, it's worth noting he'd generated much stronger .283 and .292 figures in that category in 2017 and 2018, respectively. On the other hand, Perez is the only one of the three candidates on the 40-man roster already, giving Smith a tougher hill to climb to win the spot. The 31-year-old was hitting .263 (5-for-19) with four RBI and five runs across nine Grapefruit League games before spring training was suspended.
Smith has a solid chance of securing the backup catching job this spring, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. "[Kevan's] got major-league reps," said Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash. "He's caught for the White Sox, for the Angels. It's nice to have a guy that has enough under his belt and is confident enough to kind of been there, done that, through other camps." Mike Zunino appears to have a relatively secure grasp on the top backstop job to open the season, but after seeing Travis d'Arnaud head to Atlanta in free agency this offseason, the Rays are looking for a reliable No. 2 option with some experience. Smith fits the bill on both counts, and he brings the added bonus of a solid bat that's helped lead to a career .272/.318/.381 line across 707 plate appearances. The 31-year-old has competition for the backup role in the form of incumbent Michael Perez and non-roster invitee Chris Herrmann, but Smith may have the inside track if he demonstrates sufficient improvement on the defensive side and masters the team's pitching staff this spring.
Smith signed a minor-league contract with the Rays on Monday as a non-roster invitee, Juan Toribio of MLB.com reports. Smith was non-tendered by the Angels in early December, but he'll settle for a minor-league contract after appearing primarily in the majors over the past two seasons. The 31-year-old hit .251/.318/.393 with five home runs and 20 RBI over 67 games in 2019 as he served as a backup for the Halos. While his past experience could allow him to serve as depth in the majors at some point in 2020, Smith's production will need to rebound if he hopes to have an impact in the big leagues.
Smith was non-tendered by the Angels on Monday, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. Smith spent just one season with the Angels, slashing .251/.318/.393 with five homers, 20 RBI and a -0.2 WAR in 2019. He's likely headed for a backup role following his departure from Los Angeles.
Smith is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Astros, Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic reports. Smith will sit out the season finale in what amounts to a routine breather for the day game after a night game. Anthony Bemboom will check in behind the plate while Smith wraps up the 2019 campaign with a .251/.318/.393 slash line across 211 plate appearances.