The Atlanta Braves made an early free-agent signing Monday, bringing in former Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Drew Smyly on a one-year deal.
Smyly will earn $11 million for the 2021 season, according to the Braves’ announcement.
This serves as a potential positive sign for the rest of the free-agent market, as there have been concerns that teams would not be willing to give significant contracts this offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing a full season with fans in the stands. Smyly was projected to receive a one-year, $5 million contract by MLB Trade Rumors.
Smyly helped rebuild his value in seven appearances with the San Francisco Giants this past season. He posted an ERA of 3.42 in 26 1/3 innings with 14.4 strikeouts per nine innings, the highest mark of his career by a wide margin. Smyly missed time with a finger injury, but had shown enough to receive a pay raise from Atlanta.
The 31-year-old signed with the Giants for $4 million after pitching for the Phillies down the stretch in 2019. After struggling with the Texas Rangers earier that season, he had a 4.45 ERA in 12 starts for Philadelphia. Smyly’s strong first two outings with the team even led to his manager comparing him to former Phillies ace Cliff Lee.
Smyly made his debut with the Detroit Tigers in 2012, and found success with the Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays. However, a shoulder injury interfered with his career until the past two seasons — he did not pitch in 2017 or 2018.
The left-hander will rejoin the National League East division with a career ERA of 4.13 in seven seasons.
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