The Atlanta Braves have signed left-handed pitcher Will Smith, whom was a local baseball star from Northgate High School, to a 3-year, $39 Million contract.
Last year the former Giants pitcher was an All-Star, going 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA, 96 strikeouts and 34 saves. The soft throwing southpaw was nearly unhittable last season with his biting slider and late-breaking fastball combination. Smith’s splits against left handers were incredible, striking out 42 batters with one walk as well as holding batter to .157 batting average.
With an already formidable bullpen and now the signing of the all-star closer, the Braves have nothing but great options with their bullpen as well as their starting rotation heading into the spring. Braves manager Brian Snitker has come out and said Mark Melancon will retain the closer role from last season and the young Braves farm hands Kyle Wright, Touki Tousiant and Bryse Wilson will be keen a big third year at the Major League level.
One of the bigger debates of this offseason is whether the Braves will keep Sean Newcomb in the bullpen or move his hard-throwing left arm to the starting rotation where he began his career. Adding that on to a 17 game winner with Max Fried and the All Star Mike Soroka, who held a sub three ERA the whole season, could make fireworks for the Braves.
However, if the Braves can acquire the battle tested Madison Bumgarner, that could elevate them to having one of the best overall pitching staffs in the league. Coming off Mike Sorokas electrifying rookie year along Mike Foltynewicz and the fiery Fried, the Braves should also be among the top teams with run differential with their high-powered potent offense.
For the offensive side of things the Braves have re-signed Nick Markakis to a one year deal but will be put into a platoon role with Austin Riley and possibly Johan Camargo. With Josh Donaldson declining the qualifying offer from the Braves, Mike Mostaukaus is a potential backup option, who is also a post season tested bat and glove that can signed for a lower price than Donaldson.
The Braves will also need to find another starting catcher with Brian McCan deciding to call it a career after losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS game 5. However the Braves with all of the question marks about some of the holes in their team, they still look to be a force to be reckoned with in the NL East as well as being a solidified contender for the World Series.