TODAY: The deal is done, as per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
DECEMBER 23: The Rays are nearing a deal with catcher Kevan Smith, as first reported by MLBtransactionsdaily and confirmed by MLBTR. It’s expected to be a minor-league arrangement with an invitation to MLB spring training.
Smith, 32, spent this past season with the Rays after signing a minor-league pact last offseason. He was twice selected to the big league roster but only picked up 38 plate appearances. While Smith hit well in that limited time, the Rays outrighted him off the roster earlier this offseason.
The veteran backstop has earned big league playing time in each of the past five years. Over 746 career plate appearances with the White Sox, Angels and Rays, Smith has slashed a solid .272/.321/.384 and hit 13 home runs. That’s better offensive output than that of most catchers, but Smith has never rated as a particularly good defender. He’s gotten below-average marks for his pitch framing, per Statcast, and has only thrown out 15.4% of attempted basestealers throughout his career.
There’s seemingly plenty of opportunity for Smith to win another big league job with a strong showing in spring training. The Rays lost Michael Pérez on waivers to the Pirates in October. Mike Zunino and prospect Ronaldo Hernandez, the latter of whom has yet to reach Double-A, are the only catchers on the Rays’ 40-man roster at the moment.
Why do they do stuff like this how you release the guy only to bring him back?
Flexibility? They needed him off the 40-man so they could protect a more important player. Bringing him back as minor league depth is a different animal.
It’s all about flexibility with the 40 man. Fairly common. Been given more press in recent years. Royals did it with, like, 5 guys imearlier in the off-season.
Everyone look at BR (baseball reference) he slugged pretty high. He has a nice swing and he’ll be at camp to keep the quality swings up and set a bar the rays don’t want to go below
Since this news, we now have through the arrival of catchers Mejia and Hunt through the Snell trade a perfect example of why a team might non-tender or release someone like Smith and bring him back on a minor-league deal.
2020, year of the scrub signing.
he’s probably one of the 60 best catchers in baseball.
That list gets really depressing after like the 18th guy tho.
What are you talking about? Silent Bob isn’t a scrub!
Unless another signing or trade happens he probably opens next season as Zunino’s backup unless Odom has an amazing spring
Mejia will most likely be the backup unless he has the worst spring on the planet.
Since my original post the Rays have added Smith, Mejia, Hunt, and Odom. A position they seemed to have very little at now looks a little deeper. However, defensively its a mixed bag and offensively while Zunino, Mejia, and Smith can step into one from time to time this group is collectively terrible
One might say …
He has not received rave reviews defensively
Yoda might say…
Rave defensive reviews received he has not.
One would think that Kevan Smith should be more effective at throwing out base stealers considering he had enough arm strength to be a star prep QB and would later play the same position under Dave Wannstedt at the University of Pittsburgh. Smith redshirted his first season, briefly became the Pitt starting QB the next year and eventually decided to focus strictly on baseball when ‘Wanny’ asked him to consider switching his position to tight end or outside linebacker. Smith seemed to make the right choice as he became a two-time All-Big East Conference catcher for the Pitt baseball program.
Haha I had exact opposite thinking. I was a catcher for a bit in college. Pop time is so much about footwork that I would actually assume a QB would suck at getting guys out in the basepaths. The throwing motion is so different and the footwork is just so quick, it’s what knocked me out of catching. I ended up in the outfield.
Any Rays fan knows his defense is really, really bad. He can’t move out of his squat without a two hour notice.
That said, there’s some offense there. I never quite got this obsession with defense-first backup catchers; why? I’d rather have the bat. If your #1 needs replacing, go get a glove (they’re everywhere), but for immediacy, someone with some pop is more important than the good defensive guy.
Letting Perez go was a bit of a mystery; the perfect backup, LH, good defensively, some offense, minimum wage. Of course we don’t know all the details, but it seems a give away. And it’s significant that he was scooped up by the first available (waiver priority) team (Pirates).
The thing is with backup catchers, you know they’ll play 40 or so games a year. It’s not like backup LF who gets four starts and then pinch hits a bunch. So, you need someone who can play; and specifically who can not *lose* you the game.
Catchers I care more about framing and game calling than throwing out base stealers – but the thing is, with a totally useless arm behind the plate, the SP is going to be worried about anyone on first – and it will mess with his ability to just get guys out. Put a guy with a decent arm back there and the SP can chill out with most of the guys other than the real speedsters.
I didn’t realize stealing bases was still a thing.
Separately, on Perez, agree, but I don’t think the Pirates are first – isn’t it all AL teams first then all NL?
Dunno, but i thought waivers were non-league specific at this point.
I am still hoping the Rays sign Casali. Really not that high of a hope lol.
Smith is depth. I still wonder if they are looking for a number one guy to have Zunino as backup.
I would love to see TB make a trade for Contreras.. Even a modest trade for Pedro Severino would be a nice move.
The Rays have SO much infield depth, so I’d love to see a Contreras for Edwards plus pitching prospect trade.
I was hoping the Cubs with Willson Contreras could link up in a trade this offseason, possibly exchanging Tsutsugo ($7 million), so the money lines up (always a consideration for the Rays), with the Rays sending Xavier Edwards and a pitching prospect. Seems like an obvious fit for both teams.
I don’t see Edwards, let alone him and a Pitching prospect, for two years of Contreras; that would be an overpay for a guy who usually does well for half a season. Cubs don’t want Tsutsugo either.
It’s moot now, though I understand the thought process. Zunino starts, Mejia backs up, Smith ready to fill in when needed. I personally was a big fan of Michael Perez.
Silent Bob approves
always knew the Rays were in on this guy
Totally offsets the loss of Snellzilla and Morton.
Seriously, nice depth piece. If Mejia cannot get it done, Smith slides into second catcher until someone else can be found.
Mejia can’t catch. Hard Stop
Neither can Smith: Hard Stop
But Mejia can be moved around, to see if he can “get to” some offensive potential. As, for Smith, an offense-first catcher isn’t a bad idea for a backup.
I’ve always felt that defense is much more important than offense when evaluating a catcher. That said, framing won’t matter once we have robot umps behind the plate. Until then, I’d prefer to go with solid D for my catchers…
He went downhill after Clerks…