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OC Register: Angels Offseason Options: Will Smith


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(This is the latest in a series of quick profiles on players who fit for the Angels to add over the winter. They are purely “informed speculation,” based on what we know about the Angels’ roster needs along with General Manager Billy Eppler’s preferences and history. We’ll have a new one every weekday, until the GM Meetings, which are the unofficial start of the hot stove season.)

WILL SMITH, LHP, San Francisco Giants

The basics: Smith is on his third team in six seasons in the majors, but he’s posted an ERA of 3.10 in his last five seasons, with one break while he rehabbed from Tommy John surgery. He has the eighth-best ERA of any lefty reliever who has pitched 250 innings since 2013. He will turn 30 next July.

2018 season: His first season back after surgery was his best, with a 2.55 ERA, 12.1 strikeouts and 2.5 walks per nine innings. His 0.981 WHIP was his career best. He came back May 2 and pitched 53 innings.

Contract status: Smith is due to make about $4 million in his final season of arbitration, and then be a free agent after 2019.

Why he makes sense: Billy Eppler has made it clear by his actions that he’s not a believer in using significant resources for relievers, because they are so inconsistent from year to year. It is unlikely the Angels will go after any of the big money free agent relievers who will require multiyear deals (Craig Kimbrel, Kelvin Herrera, Jeurys Familia). Smith might be just affordable enough that Eppler takes a shot. Not only is his salary going to be reasonable, but it’s only a one-year commitment, so not much is lost if he has a bad year. And he hasn’t had a bad year since he was a 22-year-old rookie. Having already had Tommy John surgery, Smith would seem to be a safe bet to have a sound elbow. José Álvarez has been the only lefty in the Angels bullpen the past few years, so they could use another one. Smith is also coming off his best season. Why would the Giants trade him? We can’t be sure exactly what they’re going to do since they are currently looking for a GM, but unless they are planning something dramatic to contend in 2019, Smith isn’t going to around when they are good again. If they are trying to rebuild, they could move Smith for a decent prospect. Because he’s a reliever with one year left, the Angels probably wouldn’t have to part with any of their top 10 prospects, but it could be someone in the next group.

Why he doesn’t: Eppler might just want to hold on to all his prospects, as he continues to let the farm system regenerate. Eppler might not feel he needs to invest in this type of reliever since he’s shown he’s adept enough at getting relievers on waivers or minor league deals (Blake Parker, Felix Peña, Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit). Also, $4 million is $4 million. It’s not a lot, but it’s not nothing.

Previous players: C J.T. RealmutoRHP Nate EovaldiRHP Sonny Gray, LHP Patrick Corbin, LHP CC Sabathia, UT Daniel Descalso, RHP Julio Teheran, LHP Gio Gonzalez, UT Marwin Gonzalez, LHP J.A. Happ.

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Intriguing idea, but i dont see it.  Seems clear Epp isnt going to do anything pen wise save for the continuing search for clean peanuts and isnt likely to allocate any of his budget to a closer type guy, though i personally think we need an anchor out there. 
If hes looking at a pen option it should be a stopper, just my 2 cents

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3 hours ago, floplag said:

Intriguing idea, but i dont see it.  Seems clear Epp isnt going to do anything pen wise save for the continuing search for clean peanuts and isnt likely to allocate any of his budget to a closer type guy, though i personally think we need an anchor out there. 
If hes looking at a pen option it should be a stopper, just my 2 cents

Pitchers who have a lot of saves cost a lot more. It’s a lot cheaper to get a buy before he becomes a closer than after. 

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8 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

Pitchers who have a lot of saves cost a lot more. It’s a lot cheaper to get a buy before he becomes a closer than after. 

Of course, i just think Epp thinks he can find that off the pile as he has so far, especially considering we have a couple of in house candidate with those kinds of K/9 rations and power.
I just dont think he puts resources there in FA or trade.
I kinda hope he doesnt in fact as that means less likelyhood of other more impact upgrade within the budget limits or trade options.
I cant see him investing 5 or 6 of his 30 M in this role, its just not who i think he is.  
I could of course always be mistaken :)

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27 minutes ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

5 or 6M? No. But 4M? Maybe. That’s why I included this guy and won’t include the big FA relievers. 

Perhaps, i mean i liked the idea myself, i just dont think its Epps style :)  
Well see but im glad you are including the non obvious options in the series, its been a good read. 

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1 hour ago, Dochalo said:

this is probably the least likely of the potential options so far.  trading for a reliever with one year of control.  if he does this it will totally disrupt any sort of understanding I may have had of Eppler and his plan.  

He traded for a 2B with one year of control twice. And this guy is coming off a better year than they were 

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1 hour ago, Jeff Fletcher said:

He traded for a 2B with one year of control twice. And this guy is coming off a better year than they were 

he's a pen piece.  

Aside from holdovers from the previous regime,  Eppler hasn't spent jack squat on his bullpens.  5 mil for Jim Johnson to get intl pool money to sign ohtani.  A couple guys have made over league min.  Mostly related to arb.  He's given up no org currency ie prospects for a pen piece outside of Johnson.  

He's confident he can build a pen without giving up anything of significance and I think he'll continue to operate under a similar mindset.  He'll believe that he can pick up a player off waivers or as a minor league FA to produce at a level of Smith or just shy of that.  

BTW, he turned the second guy into two solid pen pieces at league min while giving up a guy who is likely to be a 5th OFer at best, and a fringy low level SP who is likely to be a pen arm in 3-4 years.  

Frankly, I hope he trades Parker and Alvarez this off season.  I think they're both about to turn into a pumpkin and their value is only going to go down.  I have as much confidence in Hansel Robles as a I do Parker.  Which means I trust him to pick up another Robles or Cole or Parker or David Hernandez or Yusmeiro Petit or Bud Norris or even Jesse Chavez who in my mind are all he same.  

Do you think the outlay for Smith is worth the potential upgrade over someone he's been able to pick up for almost free?  

Not saying the odds are zero.  Just saying that the probability is low that he targets any pen piece in FAcy or trade.  

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10 hours ago, Dochalo said:

Do you think the outlay for Smith is worth the potential upgrade over someone he's been able to pick up for almost free?  

Not saying the odds are zero.  Just saying that the probability is low that he targets any pen piece in FAcy or trade.  

I agree that the chances are slim because, you're right, he doesn't like spending on the bullpen. I was mostly looking for someone who might be cheap enough and good enough to be worth a relatively small investment. Because this guy is a reliever, not a closer, and has one year left, maybe he doesn't end up costing much at all in terms of a prospect. I actually tried to find comps of relievers traded the winter before their walk year and I could only find Wade Davis, who was obviously much better than Will Smith. (He was traded for Jorge Soler.)  I also think him having one year left makes it much less of an investment. In the world of relievers, a guy making $8M over 2 years is a lot different than a guy making $4M for one year. That's what separates Smith from the FA types that Eppler avoids.

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I can see the Giants being a favorable trade partner. They really are not poised for a run at anything but a draft pick next season so trading Smitth is like getting a jump on a third or fourth round pick. They certainly don't need to carry his salary and his currency is at a high right now. They may get far less if they hold him for a deadline trade depending on performance.

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