The next chapter of Chris Smith’s long and winding baseball career will unfold outside of Oakland.
The pitcher was outrighted off the A’s 40-man roster and chose to become a free agent.
Smith’s stats in an A’s uniform won’t jump off the page, but the 36-year-old journeyman made an impact over his two years in the organization, serving as an example of perseverance and positive energy for the much younger pitchers on the staff.
He spent six years away from the majors before catching on with the A’s in 2016 and appearing in 13 games out of the bullpen. That time away saw him pitch for two indy league teams and even enroll at UC Riverside and serve as an undergraduate coach with the Highlanders when it appeared his playing days were done.
It’s no surprise, then, that Smith wore a huge grin as he approached a start at Safeco Field this past July, making him the oldest pitcher in A’s history to be making his first career major league start. The right-hander was solid over his first three starts, allowing seven earned runs over 19 innings and providing some reinforcement for an injury-plagued and inconsistent starting staff. He’d encounter rockier times in both a starting and relieving role for the rest of the season, finishing with an 0-4 record and 6.79 ERA in 14 games (9 starts).
Smith’s big league debut came back in 2008 with Boston. That’s also the season he recorded his only career victory to date.
The A’s have numerous younger pitchers they will turn to next season. But they’re also expected to spend a bulk of their offseason efforts trying to fortify their pitching staff, both the rotation and bullpen, after finishing 12th in the American League with a 4.67 team ERA.