Sep 20, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres left fielder Seth Smith (right) and catcher Yasmani Grandal (left) are congratulated by right fielder Will Venable (25) after scoring during the sixth inning on a double by catcher Rene Rivera (not pictured) against the San Francisco Giants at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
We’re careening toward Christmas and the New Year, and the baseball free agent market is quickly approaching the table-scrap stage. While the Cincinnati Reds still have a gaping hole in left field, there are fewer options for them to fill that void with each passing void. The moves by other teams in recent weeks, though, might make available a player that the Reds first considered back in the summer: San Diego Padres outfielder Seth Smith.
Why He May Be Available
In case you haven’t noticed, the Padres have been on a rampage over the last couple of weeks, and they now have 112 outfielders under contract for next season. Assuming they can’t convert some of them into catchers or pitchers or scouts or beer vendors, someone has to go. Smith has a decent platoon split and would seem likely to be among those the Padres could do without, despite the fact that they pulled him off the trade market in July by signing him to a contract extension.
Why He Fits for the Reds
Smith fits for the Reds for the same reason that Justin Upton or Ben Zobrist or (maybe) Nori Aoki fit: he can hit and he can play left field. Smith sports a 113 OPS+ in nearly 3000 career plate appearances, including a 135 mark last season, and, at 32, has shown no real signs of decline. As an outfielder with a little pop in 2015, Smith also comes cheaply, at $13.5 million over the next two seasons.
Why He Might NOT Fit for the Reds
Smith is no great shakes in the outfield, having posted negative defensive WARs throughout his career, according the Baseball-Reference.com. Smith also has a severe platoon split, posting a career OPS of .839 versus righties, but just .605 against lefties. At his age, that’s probably a pretty good argument for him to be strictly a platoon option. Lucky for him and his team, whichever that might be, there are more righthanders in the Majors than southpaws, but it’s a limitation that dampens Smith’s value.
Even though Smith doesn’t make a LOT of money, it’s enough to increase the Reds’ payroll, even if just slightly. Unless Cincinnati sent out someone of equal or greater salary (Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman), then general manager Walt Jocketty won’t bite on this one. And trading any of those guys for a couple of years of Smith won’t do the Reds much good in the short OR long term.