While the free agent market has moved slowly in recent years, the Atlanta Braves tend to jump on players they want. Particularly, it seems, when that player is coming off a good year with the Giants.
Last November 14, just about two weeks into the offseason, the Braves gave Will Smith a three-year, $40 million deal. They waited two additional days this offseason to give $11 million to Drew Smyly, who they hope will add another high-upside arm to a young rotation.
The Giants hoped to get Smyly back, and on Wednesday, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he had discussions with Smyly's agents.
"Our understanding was this was a target destination of his and he got a deal that he was happy with and he moved forward with it," Zaidi said. "He obviously did a great job for us. We had interest in bringing him back. We wish him well, it sounds like this is a spot that he's happy in and he certainly deserves the contract."
Smyly is from Little Rock, Arkansas and went to college at the University of Arkansas, so this is about as much of a homecoming as he can get in free agency. Similarly, Smith, who is from Atlanta, was drawn to the location in free agency.
The Giants don't actually have a lot of innings to replace with Smyly departing. He made just five starts and pitched a total of 26 1/3 innings because a finger strain cut his shortened season in half, but when Smyly was on the mound, he was Gabe Kapler's most dominant pitcher. Smyly had a 3.42 ERA and a 2.01 FIP. He struck out 42 batters in those innings, an elite rate that ranked with Cy Young Award winners Shane Bieber and Trevor Bauer.
The Giants had hoped to bring the new-and-improved Smyly back and see if he could do that over a full season, but they'll now look for a replacement.
"We're going to miss Drew," Kapler said on KNBR this week. "Obviously he had some injury issues this year. At the same time, when he was on the mound he was electric. I think the Braves recognized that and were willing to sign him to a very lucrative free agent contract. It's tough. It's tough to lose Drew. It was awesome to have him go out there and start regularly for us when he was healthy. We'll miss him and we wish him well."