Cubs RHP Joe Smith
With the amount of quality relievers on the market this year in free agency, the Washington Nationals could wait to sign another right-handed middle reliever. When you look at these two teams, they don’t have many middle relief free agents going into next year.
One player who is a free agent is 32-year-old Joe Smith. Two years ago, Smith had a 1.81 ERA in 76 games for the Los Angeles Angels, who won the AL West that season. This past season was not a good one for Smith. In 54 games, he had a ERA of 3.46 with the Angels and Cubs. While Smith is on the Cubs, he is not on their postseason roster.
In addition to his high ERA, Smith had a tough time striking hitters out this past season. His 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings were the second lowest of his career. Smith battled injuries this season as his 54 games appeared were his lowest since he was with the Indians in 2010. After posting a .172 opponents batting average in 2014, that number has gone up to over .240 each of the last two seasons (.246 in 2016).
With most of the Washington Nationals middle relief coming back next season, there wouldn’t seem to be a fit for Smith. Plus, he is not the reliever that he once was. With the average velocity on his fastball dropping in every season since 2011 (88.3 miles per hour in 2016 according to Fangraphs), he wouldn’t seem to be a fit for the Nats bullpen in 2017.