Smith is arbitration-eligible for the final time and is projected to earn $2.3 million in 2024. The Mets were seemingly unable to trade Smith and tendered him a contract for the upcoming season.
Tendering Smith a contract is the prudent move since the Mets currently have just two relievers who are viewed as locks to be in the 2024 bullpen.
Adam Ottavino declined his player option earlier this month.
In 56.1 innings over 62 appearances in 2023, Smith had a 4.15 ERA (4.55 FIP) and a bloated 1.40 WHIP while striking out 60 (9.6 per nine) and walking 29. Smith also continued to have problems with the long ball, serving up seven homers after allowing nine in 2022 and seven in 2021.
Although he has his shortcomings, Smith has been a solid reliever during his five-year career.
In 178.2 innings over 172 appearances, he has a 3.53 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with 9.0 strikeouts per nine.
Smith's ability to miss bats has also increased the last two seasons. He averaged 7.8 strikeouts per nine from 2018 to 2021, but averaged 9.9 strikeouts per nine combined in 2022 and 2023.
For years, Smith was betrayed by his health. And coming off the season where he finally stayed on the field all year, the Mets have little to lose by rolling with him one more time.
If Smith is ultimately a part of the revamped bullpen in 2024, he'll start out in a much lower-leverage role than the one he was thrust into in 2023 -- but he has the upside to earn more trust.