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Monday, November 16, 2020

Smyly inks one-year, $11M deal with Braves

The Atlanta Braves today signed LHP Drew Smyly to a one-year contract worth $11 million.

Smyly, 31, spent last season with the San Francisco Giants and went 0-1 with a 3.42 ERA (10 ER/26.1 IP) in seven appearances, five starts. The southpaw struck out 42 hitters in his 26.1 innings, posting single-season career bests in strikeout rate (37.8%) and strikeouts per 9.0 innings (14.35), the latter of which led all major leaguers who made at least five starts. Smyly limited opposing hitters to a .198/.261/.297 slash line, all three of which were also career bests. Left-handed batters managed just three hits in 36 at-bats (.083) against him.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 01:42 PM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: drew smyly

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   1. Nasty Nate Posted: November 16, 2020 at 01:55 PM (#5989013)
"We'll offer Eleven Mil---"
"WE ACCEPT! WE ACCEPT!"
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 02:10 PM (#5989018)
In what world is Drew Smyly worth $11M, but Brad Hand is not worth $10M?
   3. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 02:35 PM (#5989028)
That's a bizarre overpay. The guy misses two years, throws 114 horrible innings, then 26 very good ones, and you pay him like an ace closer or solid 4th SP?

If you thought he had some kind of a breakthrough, wouldn't you offer three years, or two plus an option and try to control him for a while. Would he really have turned down 3/18? Or 2/12 with a $10M option?
   4. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: November 16, 2020 at 02:42 PM (#5989032)
Josh Tomlin just signed for $1 million. I'd almost rather have 10 Tomlins than one Smyly at this point.
   5. flournoy Posted: November 16, 2020 at 03:07 PM (#5989041)
you pay him like [...] a solid 4th SP?


Well, that is exactly what the Braves signed him to be. Fourth starter behind Fried, Soroka (who may miss the first bit of the 2021 season), and Anderson. This theoretically pushes Wright back from the fourth spot to competition with Wilson and others for the fifth spot.

I don't know if it's reasonable to believe Smyly will pitch like a solid fourth starter, but obviously the Braves have cause to believe he will, otherwise they wouldn't have signed him. I guess we'll see.
   6. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 03:10 PM (#5989043)
So the mid-tier SP market is pretty big this year in an otherwise thin market. I'm guessing a lot of them will peg their numbers to this....and they're not going to get what they ask for. There are going to be a lot of pitchers unsigned in March.
   7. Adam Starblind Posted: November 16, 2020 at 03:52 PM (#5989059)
Bauer's going to get Strasburg's contract.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 16, 2020 at 03:58 PM (#5989061)
Well, that is exactly what the Braves signed him to be. Fourth starter behind Fried, Soroka (who may miss the first bit of the 2021 season), and Anderson. This theoretically pushes Wright back from the fourth spot to competition with Wilson and others for the fifth spot.

I don't know if it's reasonable to believe Smyly will pitch like a solid fourth starter, but obviously the Braves have cause to believe he will, otherwise they wouldn't have signed him. I guess we'll see.


I just seems crazy to expect that out of a guy who's thrown <150 innings in the last four years combined, much less pay him as if it were highly likely.
   9. JRVJ Posted: November 16, 2020 at 04:24 PM (#5989076)
I could sort of understand the Robbie Ray contract.

This contract I do not understand (w/ the proviso that Smylys numbers for 2020 were very nice, but in very limited duty). Might it be that Atlanta's brain trust looked deep into Smyly's performance and actually thought the changes he must have made were permanent?
   10. Walt Davis Posted: November 16, 2020 at 05:00 PM (#5989085)
Also baffled. I assume statcast numbers show some massive improvement. This is yet another contract where it seems like the team should have been getting 2-3 years or some options if they really believed the guy had a breakthrough but instead are paying "full price" for a single year. Maybe it's a "who knows what covid is gonna do to 2021 and beyond?" or a "we don't want to do longer-term small stuff until we see the next CBA" or some combo of them both. I suspect there's some "analytics" at work here. Or maybe just "the Dodgers have had a lot of success with a deep rotation of fragile but excellent pitchers" imitation.

But it could possibly be coming from the players. We've often speculated about "what would it take to sign Bryce Harper for just 4 years?" and coming up with a very large number that is still a lot below $300 M. So maybe this is the I don't want 2/$16 with an option for $10 but I'll give you 1/$11. Doesn't make sense to me but they might also be waiting to see what the nextt CBA holds, wanting to max earnings ahead of a strike, or maybe some agent analytics shows they usually lose on the option deals and they're better off (on average) taking that one-year gamble to (re-)establish value.

Now, as to Smyly -- I never would have guessed he had a career 9 K/9. I can't guarantee I've ever seen him pitch (probably) but by default I put him in the softer-tossing leftie bucket. I was originally expecting to write something like "even just 26 innings, jumping from 7 to 14 K/9 is not likely an accident" ... but 14 K/9 over 26 for a guy who K'd 9/9 ... still unlikely but I find that surprising not shocking I guess. Maybe there's also something around crazy changes being more sustainable if you're planning on the guy averaging 4.5-5 innings per start.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: November 16, 2020 at 05:02 PM (#5989086)
Anyway, it's early but so far it seems like the AAV isn't plummeting but maybe the years are.
   12. The Duke Posted: November 16, 2020 at 06:49 PM (#5989106)
Atlanta should have made WS - not unreasonable to expect they might do a bit more than expected to help get them over top - or out another way, the Marginal value of his extra wins is very high and Trevor Bauer on a one year is 3X the cost.
   13. flournoy Posted: November 16, 2020 at 07:59 PM (#5989117)
I just seems crazy to expect that out of a guy who's thrown <150 innings in the last four years combined, much less pay him as if it were highly likely.


Maybe. He's definitely trending in the right direction over those four years, though. From not pitching at all due to Tommy John surgery and related setbacks, then pitching poorly for the Rangers, then pitching well for the Phillies, and finally pitching really well for the Giants. Apparently his fastball velocity jumped up as well, but I don't really pay attention to that stuff, so I can't really speak to what that might indicate.

The Braves have had success with one-year contracts for guys who you might have expected would have signed longer term (Marcell Ozuna, Josh Donaldson, Dallas Keuchel), so the short-term nature might be organizational philosophy. There is definitely something to be said for avoiding multi-year deals that turn out badly.
   14. The Duke Posted: November 16, 2020 at 08:49 PM (#5989124)
I think it is just this. Liberty media is ok with a precisely calibrated spend on a team with 90+ win potential. But no free agent long term contracts. The log long term deals that have done have almost without exception been good. Freeman, Acuna, Albies, Markakis. Don’t seem to do much long term stuff with pitching corps. I expect this new group to get some nice extensions though
   15. Walt Davis Posted: November 17, 2020 at 03:09 AM (#5989186)
If this deal was 1/$3 plus $200 K for each of the first 10 starts and $300 K for any start after that, signing Smyly would make perfect sense. (Or variants thereof) Nobody's saying "don't take a chance on Smyly" it's "don't guarantee a guy this fragile $11 M or at least don't do it unless you get an option year or two in case he takes off." Even when he was "healthy" he had just 153 IP, 67 IP then 175 IP and that was back in 2016.
   16. bfan Posted: November 17, 2020 at 08:39 AM (#5989198)
Using this approach, Keuchel worked out great; Hamels and Hernandez not so great (although I do not think it cost Braves anything for Hernandez). The downside risk is so small here, i kind of get the why not, as you really are trying to solve for one year.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 17, 2020 at 09:05 AM (#5989204)
The downside risk is so small here, i kind of get the why not, as you really are trying to solve for one year.

The downside risk is you waste $11M and you have a black whole at #4 in your rotation. <50 IP is the most likely PT scenario for Smyly, given his history.

If you took that $11M and signed 3 or 4 guys, you have a much better chance of actually having a rotation spot filled.
   18. flournoy Posted: November 17, 2020 at 09:31 AM (#5989216)
Why is <50 innings the most likely scenario? Certainly it's a possibility, but I don't know that it's a probability.

The Braves just won the division and made it to the NLCS in a season where they had black holes in the rotation at #5, #4, #3, and half of #2 (until Anderson was called up). Filling the rotation spot with a warm body is less of a priority than adding good pitchers. We'll see if Smyly fits that bill.

I do not think it cost Braves anything for Hernandez


I wouldn't think so - he was on a minor league deal and opted out. I think any cost to the Braves would have been negligible. As far as Hamels... I guess the best that can be said is that it's a good thing the 2020 salaries were prorated for 60 games.
   19. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 17, 2020 at 09:34 AM (#5989217)
The Braves just won the division and made it to the NLCS in a season where they had black holes in the rotation at #5, #4, #3, and half of #2 (until Anderson was called up). Filling the rotation spot with a warm body is less of a priority than adding good pitchers. We'll see if Smyly fits that bill.

In a longer season, that's going to be much harder to do.

It's probably a coin toss of who adds more value next year: Smyly or Tomlin. Maybe 60:40 Smyly. Smyly cost 11X as much.
   20. BDC Posted: November 17, 2020 at 09:51 AM (#5989220)
Well, anyway, MLB can't be in as severe an economic crisis as had been feared.
   21. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 17, 2020 at 10:29 AM (#5989226)
"We'll offer Eleven Mil---"
"WE ACCEPT! WE ACCEPT!"
"We'll offer 11 million dollars."

"My client won't even consider anything less than three--wait, what did you say?"
   22. Rally Posted: November 17, 2020 at 10:57 AM (#5989235)
My client won't accept anything less than a guaranteed deal for six... um, yeah... sixty million dollars but he really likes your team and is willing to sign for a discount, just for you. Pleasure doing business.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: November 17, 2020 at 04:07 PM (#5989369)
"Sign it before they spot the typo!"
   24. Walt Davis Posted: November 17, 2020 at 04:15 PM (#5989377)
Anyway, nobody's questioning the wisdom, from the team perspective, of one-year contracts. But Keuchel was coming off a 200 inning season, the third of his career, and 950 innings of 121 ERA+ over the previous 5 years. He was just caught between a QO and a hard place, not really deservedly, and the Bravves waited for the deadline to pass and grabbed him for 2/3 of the QO price. That's about as far from Smyly's track record as you can get. There are plenty of short-term guaranteed contract offers that I think would make sense to offer Smyly, this isn't one of them.

Still, smarter than 3/$39 for Chatwood.
   25. The Yankee Clapper Posted: November 17, 2020 at 05:11 PM (#5989407)
I don’t think he gets this deal if his name was Frownly.
   26. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: November 17, 2020 at 05:19 PM (#5989411)
Maybe it was supposed to read "$1.1 million"?

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