Dodgers Agree to Contract Extension with Will Smith

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers haven’t finished spending yet. After an offseason where they spent almost $1 billion in free agency, most notably Shohei Ohtani, the team has extended All-Star catcher Will Smith to a 10 year, $140 million deal. The new contract buys out his last year of arbitration and keeps him in Dodger Blue until his age 39 season.

Underrated Bat

With players like MVP Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Ohtani in the lineup, Smith has been underrated compared to the superstars. He’s averaged 20 home runs a season while maintaining a high OPS while battling cleanup for manager Dave Roberts. Originally un-drafted in 2013 out of Kentucky Country Day School, Smith attended the University of Louisville. During his junior year for the Cardinals, he hit .382 with seven home runs while driving in 43.

He was drafted in the first round by the Dodgers in 2016. After working his way through the minors, Smith was called up by the Dodgers on May 27, 2019. He hit his first home run as a walk-off against the Philadelphia Phillies. He was sent down briefly to the Oklahoma City Dodgers, but was called up permanently in July 2019. Smith was named the starting catcher around that time as well. He finished the season slashing .253/.337/.571 in 54 games with 15 homers and 42 RBI.

World Champion

In the pandemic-shortened season in 2020, Smith played in 37 games for the World Champion Dodgers and hit .289/.401/.579 with eight home runs and 25 RBI. He added one home run in the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays off of another Will Smith. Following the World Series, the real work began for Smith. He did well at the plate, but struggled with his defense behind it. It’s understandable considering that it’s the most physically demanding position on the field. He spent the offseason working on his defensive game. Smith put in hours to work on pitch framing and how to call a game with pitchers like future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Smith told reporters: “I started to really learn, when it comes to the game calling and all that. It just takes time.”

All-Star off the Field

The 2022 season was another good year for Smith at the plate, but was just as valuable off the field with the birth of his daughter, Charlotte with wife Cara. He and Cara also founded their charity, the Catching Hope Foundation. The charity helps at-risk low income kids develop skills needed to succeed and stay off the streets.

All Star On the Field

Smith made his first All-Star team in 2023. The Boys in Blue hope it’s the first of many. At the All-Star Break,  he was 11th in the NL in OPS, while taking huge steps forward defensively. He went from last in the league to top 20% in pitch framing. Kershaw had this to say about Smith “What he does offensively, as well as doing what we need to do with the pitching staff and taking pride in that, he makes it look easy.” He has become a favorite among Dodger fans. They always look forward to watching him play. As he draws comparisons to Dodger greats. like Mike Piazza and Roy Campanella, Smith looks to reign over Chavez Ravine for years to come.

 

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