The next trade deadline profile is on Giants’ reliever Will Smith, someone who might just be the perfect fit for the Dodgers’ bullpen.
The Dodgers and Giants haven’t consummated a trade since 2007, when the LA acquired Mark Sweeney from San Francisco for infielder Travis Denker. That could change this year, as the Dodgers could very well be in the Smith market.
Word from someone with inside info is that the Dodgers may be the front-runner for Smith’s services. And word from a different insider said the cost may not be too prohibitive (more on that shortly).
Smith is having another fantastic season. The nearly 30-year-old has been great with the Giants since coming over from the Brewers at the trade deadline in 2016 (for Phil Bickford and Andrew Susac in a deal that looks extremely lopsided now). And that even included him missing the 2017 season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. In 2019, Smith has a 2.16 ERA, 2.01 FIP, a 41.1 K% and a 6.5 BB%. His K-BB% is 4th-best among qualified MLB relievers. He’s throwing as hard as he ever has, and is mainly a fastball-slider guy, but he also has a curveball and changeup he’ll use sparingly.
But his slider is the pitch with which he makes his living. Before Sunday’s action, Smith had some impressive ranks when it came to expected batting average, weighted on-base average and slugging.
- xBA: .112 — 6th-best among MLB relievers (minimum 50 PA)
- xwOBA: .116 — best among MLB relievers (minimum 50 PA)
- xSLG: .162 — 6th-best among MLB relievers (minimum 50 PA)
If you’re more into actual results and not expected results, here are his ranks in those categories:
- BA: .103 — best among MLB relievers (minimum 50 PA)
- wOBA: .131 — best among MLB relievers (minimum 50 PA)
- SLG: .207 — 5th-best among MLB relievers (minimum 50 PA)
No matter which way you view it, Smith’s slider is perhaps one of the best pitches in all of baseball — and not a lot of folks know about it.
Before the season, former FanGraphs writer Jeff Sullivan (now Rays scout) pleaded for some team to go out and get Smith. He has an excellent article breaking down just how good Smith is and why every team should want him.
If you want to see his slider in action, well, take a look at this ridiculous GIF of it from a game last year.
Sullivan likened Smith and his slider to a one-inning version of Patrick Corbin.
Normally, a guy with this kind of talent and ability would cost an arm and a leg, but the fact that Smith is a free agent after the season drives down his acquisition cost considerably.
For Smith, I’ve been told that it’ll likely take 2-3 prospects to get him — the best of which being a Top 5-10 org guy. Then, you’re looking at a little more of an established prospect and one flyer/lottery ticket. I’ll propose a couple packages below. That is factoring in the intradivision/rivalry tax.
Remember, there’s no trade partner this year who has better knowledge of the Dodgers’ farm system than the Giants and Farhan Zaidi. Some think that might make it more difficult to complete a deal, but I think it makes it more likely than ever.
Downs (SS/2B) is having an excellent season with the Quakes, but the Dodgers are going to have to lose someone of his caliber to get a deal done. Santana (RHP) gives the Giants a guy they could plug in right away into the rotation or bullpen (and his value is down a bit because of a rough 2019 season). Carrillo (RHP) has better scouting reports than performance thus far in High-A. He has an electric arm, but the command hasn’t quite been there. Still, he’d be a guy the Giants could work to develop.
Estevez (2B/SS) has developed well the last couple seasons and has one of the more underrated bats in the system. Kendall (OF) has been a massive work in progress, but Zaidi was one of the most prominent people in the Dodger org responsible for drafting him. White (RHP) has been up-and-down this season, but he’s had more good than bad. He was also part of the first draft class Zaidi oversaw, so he knows the potential White has on the mound.
These packages could be modified in a number of ways, but I don’t think the Dodgers consider including guys like Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Keibert Ruiz or — funny enough — Will Smith to land a rental relief pitcher, no matter how good he is. But guys like the ones mentioned above, as well as Tony Gonsolin, Josiah Gray, DJ Peters, Jordan Sheffield and Edwin Uceta could be of interest to San Francisco.
Smith — maybe even more than Vazquez — might be the perfect fit for this bullpen for this season. He’s one of the league’s best and should help a contending team improve its ‘pen performance heading into October. Let’s hope it’s the Dodgers, if the price is right.