An interesting contract was signed early this week when Drew Smyly agreed to terms with the Braves for one year and $11 million.
Beyond the familiar name joining the NL East, it gave us more information about how teams are valuing free agents.
Consider that last offseason, in a normal year, these contracts were signed:
- Didi Gregorius: 1 year, $14M
- Edwin Encarnacion: 1 year, $12M
- Rick Porcello: 1 year, $10M
- Blake Treinen: 1 year, $10M
Smyly was seemingly paid the way he would've been in a year that didn't include a pandemic and $3 billion losses league-wide.
Though there has not been much activity yet this offseason, we've already seen two teams reward pitchers with appealing command numbers who seem to be ascending. Kevin Gausman was surprisingly extended the $17.8 million qualifying offer by the Giants and accepted. And now the Smyly deal.
Smyly was very good this summer for Gabe Kapler's Giants, posting a 3.42 ERA in 26⅓ innings with 42 strikeouts and nine walks. Since signing with the Phillies in July 2019, Smyly has a 4.14 ERA with 110 strikeouts and 30 walks in 89 innings.
Now, both of those moves were made by teams with rotation needs, which could have skewed the price tags. The Giants have little beyond Gausman, Johnny Cueto and maybe Logan Webb. The Braves just dealt with a rash of starting pitching injuries.
But it was still a notable number. It was more than Robbie Ray (one year, $8M) signed for last week with the Blue Jays. And it should increase the confidence of other free-agent pitchers in line for short-term deals like James Paxton and Mike Minor.
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