The Mets’ bullpen outlook changed dramatically shortly before the 2023 season began, as Edwin Díaz suffered a freak, season-ending injury during a celebration at the World Baseball Classic. But Drew Smith always figured to be a somewhat important piece of the team’s bullpen, as the quartet of Díaz, David Roberston, Adam Ottavino, and Brooks Raley couldn’t pitch all of the relief innings over the course of a full season.
Díaz’s absence drastically altered the important of every other arm in the Mets’ bullpen, and unfortunately, Smith wound up having his worst season as a major league pitcher. In 56.1 innings, Smith had a 4.15 ERA and a 4.55 FIP. He saw his walk rate balloon from a career rate of 7.8 percent between 2018 and 2022 to 11.9 percent during the 2023 season. And while his home run rate improved on a per-nine-innings basis, Smith always seemed to give up the long ball at the worst possible time. His -0.86 WPA on the season wasn’t the worst mark in the bullpen—Ottavino and Trevor Gott were even worse in that regard—but certainly wasn’t good.
The 2024 season is Smith’s final year of arbitration eligibility, and MLB Trade Rumors projects that he’ll make $2.3 million in that process if the Mets tender him a contract. He is out of options, per FanGraphs, and would have a bullpen spot all but locked up if the Mets decide to go that route.
Until we see what kind of bullpen moves the team makes under David Stearns, it’s hard to say where Smith would rank on the bullpen depth chart if the team retains him. If we assume that Ottavino will pick up his player option for 2024 and that the Mets will pick up Raley’s club option, Smith would probably slot in as the fourth-best reliever in the organization to start the offseason. If the team intends to fill out all of its bullpen roster spots with better major league relievers, non-tendering Smith doesn’t seem unreasonable. If the plan is to do anything less than that, though, it’s probably worth keeping Smith in the fold for a relatively modest major league salary.