Late Saturday night it was reported that the Blue Jays had come to a 1 year, major league agreement with free agent reliever, Joe Smith. The rest of the details have not yet been released.
As we’ve made out way through the final month of the offseason, the Blue Jays have quietly made some strong moves to bolster their bullpen. First, it was lefty J.P. Howell to a 1 year, 3 million dollar contract, who the Blue Jays hope can help fill the void left behind by Brett Cecil.
Saturday evening, Fox’s Ken Rosenthal broke the news that the Blue Jays had also signed right-handed reliever, Joe Smith to a 1 year, major league contract. Smith spent last season split between the Los Angeles Angels, and Chicago Cubs, pitching to a 3.46 ERA overall in 54 appearances.
He may be nowhere near the class of fellow free agent relievers Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen, but it’s surprising Smith went this long without a contract. When you take a deeper look at his numbers over the years, there is good reason to believe the Blue Jays may have found themselves a great score for this late in the offseason.
As mentioned above, Smith had a 3.46 ERA overall, and actually had it down to 2.51 through 14.1 innings with the Cubs, after being traded to the National League. Unfortunately, he was left off the playoff roster, but it was not for a lack of solid performances after his arrival.
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For his career, the 32 year old is 41-28 with a 2.93 ERA in 639 games with the Angels, Cubs, Cleveland Indians and New York Mets. He broke in with the Mets in 2007, before moving on to Cleveland where he spent 5 seasons. With the Angels, he saved a career high 15 games in 2014, and had a sparkling 1.81 ERA, so he has some late inning experience as well.
Of course, Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins are familiar with Smith from his days spent in the Cleveland organization. From 2009-2013, he had his ERA below 3.00 on 3 occasions, including a low of 2.01 in 2011. Still only 32, and coming off a solid season in 2016, it’s not hard to understand why the Blue Jays front office was interested
Last season was a bit of an outlier for the side-winder, as he actually performed a little better against left-handed batters.
2016 was actually one of Smith’s worst seasons against same-side hitting. Looking at 2014 gives us a more accurate idea of how the splits work for Smith.
As you can see, the veteran has had a lot of success against right-handed batters, holding them to a minuscule clip in 2014, .215/.286/.305 clip for his career.
Smith was left off of the Cubs’ playoff roster, largely due to other options and a lack of time to truly build trust in his arm. However, that’s no reason for the Blue Jays to fret, as Smith has a long track record of success, and plenty of experience in the AL.