Pittsburgh Pirates Free Agent Target: Left-Handed Reliever Will Smith
By Marty Leap
The Pittsburgh Pirates could still use left-handed bullpen help. Veteran Will Smith is a free agent who could provide this help.
It has been a busy offseason for general manager Ben Cherington and the Pittsburgh Pirates. It has been the most active and prodcutive offseaosn the Pirates have had in terms of adding to their major league rsoter in quite a few years.
One year that was a major need for the Pittsburgh Pirates entering the offseason was left-handed relief pitching. So far this offseason they have addressed that need by signing free agent Jarlín García and selecting Jose Hernandez in the Rule 5 Draft.
Despite these two additions, the Pirate bullpen could still use left-handed pitching help. After all, García and Hernandez are the only left-handed pitchers currently on their 40-man roster. Additionally, Hernandez is a wild card due to being a Rule 5 Draft addition who has zero MLB experience.
With pitchers and catchers set to report to Bradenton in less than a month, Cherington should still be looking for left-handed bullpen help. One veteran that is still available in free agency and could provide this needed help to the Pirate bullpen is Will Smith.
The 33-year-old Smith has pitched in 10 MLB season. He made it to the majors as a starting pitcher with the Kansas City Royals in 2012. He'd make one start with the Royals in 2013, but also made 18 relief outings that season as his transition to a full-time bullpen role began.
Smith has also pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants (twice), Atlanta Braves, and Houston Astros in his career. He started the 2022 season with the Braves before being traded to the Astros at the trade deadline.
Last season, Smith posted a 3.97 ERA and a 4.26 FIP in 59.0 innings pitched. He struggled some with the long ball allowing nine home runs (1.37 HR/9), walked 9.6% of batters faced, and had a strong strikeout rate of 24.9%.
Smith could play a variety of roles out of Derek Shelton's bullpen if the Pittsburgh Pirates were to bring him into the fold. He, obviously, would be used to negate left-handed hitters. Last season, he limited left-handed hitters to a .230 batting average and a .370 slugging percentage while striking them out at a 28.6% rate.
Smith could also be used as a late inning, high-leverage situation arm by Shelton. Smith has often been used in these situations throughout his career, including recording 91 saves in his MLB career. Additional high-leverage arms to go with David Bednar is something the Pirate bullpen sorely lacks, Smith could help fill this void.
Finally, Smith would fit a quality that the Pirates have empahsized this offseason - veteran leadership. Free agent signings Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, Austin Hedges, and Rich Hill were all made with their ability to be veteran leaders and to set an example for a young team in mind. Smith could help fill this role for the Pirate bullpen.