Why Smyly's Braves contract is good and bad news for Giants


The announcement from the Atlanta Braves on Monday morning represented good news and bad news for the Giants. 

Drew Smyly signed a one-year, $11 million contract with the Braves, fully capitalizing on seven tantalizing appearances in his lone year with the Giants. Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris had hoped to bring Smyly back, knowing that the pitcher they saw this summer was throwing like an ace when he was able to stay healthy.

The Giants have gone one-for-two in their bid to reunite last year's reclamation projects, and they'll now have to replace Smyly, who made just five starts but might have slotted in as the No. 2 starter in San Francisco had he returned. They also might have to pay more than they expected for so-called "rolls of the dice." With Robbie Ray getting $8 million and Smyly getting $11 million, it's clear the one-year starting pitcher market hasn't been impacted by the pandemic and looming labor uncertainty. 

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The Giants were able to sign Smyly last January for $4 million plus incentives. A year later, they now have to decide whether they want to jump on a similar pitcher now and pay more than expected, or wait until the new year and scoop up this year's bargains, if they remain on the market. 

There is a huge silver lining to all of this, though. When Zaidi took over in 2018, he talked optimistically about becoming a home for free agents. The Giants know they won't ever be all that attractive to hitters, but with their favorable ballpark and a new staff -- led now by Andrew Bailey and Brian Bannister -- focused on development at the big league level, the organization hopes to be an unbeatable home for the Gausmans and Smylys of the world who are out there every offseason. There's no doubt that's becoming the case. 

Zaidi signed Gausman, Smyly and Drew Pomeranz for a total of $14.5 million plus incentives, and while the pandemic kept him from getting prospects back during the trade deadline as he did with Pomeranz in 2019, all three pitchers still did well when they got back on the open market, a huge boost for Zaidi's future sales pitches. With the Smyly deal, those three will now make about $38 million in 2021. 

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If you're a veteran free agent who was hurt or underperformed and you're looking for a rejuvenation spot next year and into the future, you can't really do any better than San Francisco right now, especially because the Giants still potentially have two rotation spots open. That's a pitch that worked on Smyly, perhaps better than he even he could have expected. 

Smyly cashed in on 26 1/3 innings, in which he struck out 42 batters. On Monday, that left the Giants searching for their next Drew Smyly, but armed with further confirmation that they've gotten pretty good at it. 

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