The Astros are acquiring reliever Will Smith of the Braves to start jake odorizzireports Fox 26’s Mark Berman (twitter link).
Odorizzi has been seen as an expendable piece for the Astros, perhaps at least since being left off the club’s ALDS roster last October. He has worked as part of a six-man rotation this year in Houston, but Lance McCullers Jr. is close to making his season debut as he recovers from a forearm strain. Odorizzi, 32, has thrown a solid 3.75 ERA in a dozen starts for the Astros this year, averaging exactly five innings per outing. He is a flyball pitcher who has never been particularly adept at missing bats, but has been able to avoid hard hits this year to generate good results.
It would seem Atlanta’s motivation here is to add veteran depth to the back of their rotation, which has consisted almost entirely of maximum fried, Kyle Wright, charlie morton, Ian Andersonand rookie sensation spencer strider. Anderson has struggled with a 4.99 ERA, while Strider has reached 80 1/3 innings on the season after pitching a career-high 94 last year. Odorizzi’s last outing served as an excellent commercial showcase for Houston: seven scoreless innings against the Mariners. Odorizzi had injured his leg in May, knocking him out for seven weeks, and dealt with a blister before kickoff against Seattle.
Odorizzi’s contract is a factor here. He’s earning $5 million this year (about $1.79 million left), but would earn $500k at 100 innings plus $1 million each at 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 innings. Odorizzi is currently at 60 innings, so 120 would seem like the likely ceiling. Odorizzi also has a player option valued at $6.5 million with a total buyout of $3.25 million, but as Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle explains, “Odorizzi’s player option can fetch a base salary of $12.5 million and a total buyout of $6.25 million, but only if he pitches 30 games in which he gets 12 or more outs in 2021-22 After Sunday, Odorizzi has 29 such games in 2021-22.” Since the pitcher appears having at least $3 million on the line to make a start over four innings, it was mutually beneficial for the Astros to find a team that was more comfortable allowing him to reach that threshold and achieve some performance bonuses.
Smith, 33, was the top reliever in the free-agent class of 2019-20. The Braves signed him to a hefty $40 million, three-year contract, also handing over his second-round pick and $500K in international bonus pool money. Smith’s effectiveness faded in Atlanta, as he was often affected by the longball and worsening control. He served as the Braves’ closer in the 2021 regular season with decent results, but then became a major factor in their postseason run with 11 scoreless innings and six saves. Smith will forever be immortalized as the pitcher on the mound when the Braves won it all last year.
In March, the Braves signed kenley jansen, pushing Smith into a setup role. Smith was at times the Braves’ third-highest leverage reliever this season, but in July he ranked seventh in that regard and was used in more of a cleanup role. According to MLB.com’s Mark BowmanSmith probably would have been the odd man out for Atlanta once the veteran reliever kirby yachts It is activated. Smith is making $13 million this year (about $4.6 million left), plus he’ll be due a $1 million buyout for 2023.
Smith joins a Houston bullpen led by ryan pressley, Raphael Montero, Hector Neris, Ryne StanekY phil thug. None of those pitchers throw lefties and lefties blake-taylor hit the IL in June with elbow swelling. Smith has never relied on speed, so it’s possible a fresh set of eyes on his mechanics and shooting mix, especially given the Astros’ strong reputation in that department, could right the ship.
If Odorizzi goes 110-119 innings, the Braves will end up paying him around $3.3MM total. By trading Smith, Atlanta waived a financial commitment of about $5.6 million, so they would “earn” $2.3 million in the trade, assuming no cash is included in the deal. It is also possible that Odorizzi will not reach 110 innings. Money aside, this exchange depicts each team trading a surplus to best meet their needs.
It’s been a busy night for Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who also traded for the Tigers outfielder. Robert Grossman. Similarly, Astros general manager James Click has been active today on the eve of the trade deadline, also adding wide receiver Christian Vazquez from Boston and first base Trey Mancini of the Orioles.