Rangers Sign LHP Will Smith

Will Smith
(Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

The Texas Rangers have signed left-hander Will Smith to a one-year Major League contract. Smith will earn $1.5 million in guaranteed money, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He could also earn up to $2.5 million in incentives based on total appearances and games finished, indicating that Smith might indeed get some consideration for the closer’s role. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Rangers have designated infielder Mark Mathias for assignment.

What Will Smith Brings to the Rangers

The Rangers will not be wasting time in getting Will Smith acclimated to his new surroundings. With spring training well underway, Smith will join the team in Surprise, Arizona on Saturday. The 33-year-old left-hander split last season with the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros. He combined for a 3.97 ERA and five saves over 65 relief appearances. Acquired by Houston on August 2 in exchange for current Ranger Jake Odorizzi, he produced a 3.27 ERA (8 ER/22 IP) over 24 relief outings for the Astros.  Houston declined a 2023 club option for him on November 9, making him a free agent.

Will Smith holds a career ERA of 3.59 with 91 saves over 513 games spanning ten Major League seasons. He has had stints with the Kansas City Royals (2012-13), Milwaukee Brewers (2014-16), San Francisco Giants (2016, 2018-19), Braves (2020-22), and Astros (2022). He was drafted in 2008 out of Gulf Coast State College in Panama City, Florida.

Playing for a Familiar Face

Will Smith is no stranger to new Rangers manager Bruce Bochy. The Georgia native produced a career-best 37 saves for the Braves in 2021 and was an All-Star with the Giants in 2019, which was Bochy’s final season with the Giants.  Since the start of 2018, Smith has a 3.27 ERA with 90 saves and a 1.125 WHIP figure over 271 relief outings, and his 11.61 strikeouts per 9 innings over that span ranks 15th among all major league relievers with at least 200 appearances.

Playoff Experience

Smith has pitched exclusively for playoff teams over the past three seasons. He made three appearances for the Braves in the club’s 2020 NLCS loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Smith also totaled 11 scoreless innings over 11 postseason appearances in the Braves’ 2021 World Championship run. He went 2-0 with six saves.  He was on the Astros’ World Series roster last year, but did not appear in the club’s Fall Classic win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

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