2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Joe Smith

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Since the Mets traded him away, Smith has been nothing short of excellent.

Of all the players the Mets gave up in the J.J. Putz trade, Joe Smith just might be the one who got away. Drafted by New York in 2006, Smith made it to the big leagues in 2007 and was pretty effective right away. Between 2007 and 2008, his age-23 and -24 seasons, Smith had a 3.51 ERA and 122 ERA+.

After the 2008 season, though, the Mets sent him to Cleveland as part of the three-team trade that netted them Putz. Since then. he's put up a 2.76 ERA and 143 ERA+ in 303 appearances. So the Mets gave up on one of the very few young bullpen arms who would have been worth keeping. Whoops.

For his career, Smith's been more effective against right-handed opponents, but left-handed hitters haven't harmed him too much. His career 2.97 ERA is significantly lower than his 3.71 FIP, but he's thrown enough innings that his results are not likely a mirage.

The cost

Relief pitchers can be tricky in the free agent market, but Smith will likely get a multi-year deal. He made $3.15 million this season and will likely get a raise when he signs his new contract. Something in the ballpark of a two-year, $12 million might work, though the rising cost of players on the free agent market might earn him a bit more.

The fit

While the Mets seem to finally have a group of young relief pitchers on their roster, they certainly don't have many pitchers with as long a track record as Smith. Assuming he's ready after neck surgery, Bobby Parnell figures to be the team's closer. Vic Black is seemingly penciled into a prominent role already, but he and Gonzalez Germen, Jeurys Familia, and Carlos Torres have limited big league experience thus far. A Mets-Smith reunion might not be in order this winter because of the team's seemingly limited budget, but it wouldn't be a shock if the Mets looked to bring in a veteran arm or two for their 2014 bullpen.

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