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Report: Braves sign premium closer Will Smith

Will Smith

The Atlanta Braves have made the first big splash of the 2019 offseason.

Atlanta agreed to terms on a three-year deal with former San Francisco Giants closer Will Smith, with a club option on a fourth year. In total, the deal is worth $40 million guaranteed:

Smith was one of the best closers in baseball last season. He notched 34 saves in 65 1/3 innings of work, posting a 2.76 ERA and a 13.2 K/9.

The left-hander was truly exceptional in the first half, posting a 1.98 ERA and 0.798 WHIP while holding opposing hitters to a .490 OPS. After struggling in July and August, Smith returned to form in September, posting a 1.17 ERA in 7.2 innings of work.

Smith was dangled as a trade piece in July, but the Giants elected to retain his services in an attempt to reposition for a run at a Wild Card spot.

San Francisco then slapped a $17.8 million qualifying offer on Smith at the end of the season, which was thought to sour his market in free agency. Any team signing Smith would have to part with a compensatory draft pick, and not even Aroldis Chapman has been valued at close to $18 million.

However, Rosenthal also reports that Smith’s agent told opposing teams that his client would sign the qualifying offer with the Giants if he was not offered a multi-year contract:

The Braves–who have been searching for a more reliable closer for years–ultimately decided that signing Smith would give them a bona fide weapon at the end of the bullpen alongside Mark Melancon and Shane Greene.

With Smith joining the roster, Atlanta’s relief corps suddenly stacks up well against their competitors in the National League.