The Atlanta Braves are being aggressive in the early going of MLB free agency and they just made a crucial move to help shore up their largely shaky bullpen.
On Thursday, the team announced it signed All-Star reliever Will Smith to a three-year contract. The left-hander has been among the best in the league the last two seasons and was a hot commodity at the trade deadline before the Giants let teams know they weren't going to be selling.
That's a handsome contract for Smith, who finished last season 6-0 with a 2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 96 strikeouts and 34 saves in 63 games (65.1 innings). That earned him an All-Star nod and he'll bring a much-needed veteran presence to an inconsistent cast of Braves relievers.
Why'd this happen so quickly? Turns out Smith's agent used Thursday's qualifying offer deadline as a negotiating tactic, and the Braves bit.
Atlanta did impressive work during last year's trade deadline and acquired Tigers close Shane Greene, Giants reliever Mark Melancon and Rangers reliever Chris Martin, but it took a little while for the new unit to mesh. Assuming they've gotten it together, adding Smith to the mix is going to make this one of the most feared bullpens in baseball.
Braves fans, it looks like your team is serious about making that World Series run in 2020. The NL East champs are ready to pick up where they left off.