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Braves strike early, sign free agent reliever Will Smith to three year, $40 million deal

The Braves are not messing around to start the offseason.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants were the team that had the most interest in seeing how qualifying offers played out this offseason. A team in pretty desperate need of an infusion of talent and planning for the future, the Giants extended QOs to both pitcher Madison Bumgarner as well as lefty reliever Will Smith. Bumgarner, as expected, declined his offer and will hit the free agent market with draft pick compensation attached to him.

However, if you had asked most observers before the decisions made today as to who was the guy most likely to accept his offer, it was Smith. Relievers already have a somewhat depressed market value versus other positions and Smith would have made a hefty paycheck for 2020 before hitting the market as a free man after next season.

Shows how much we know.

Virtually no one predicted that Smith was going to end up with the Braves as most of the attention surrounding Atlanta was whether or not they were going to re-sign Josh Donaldson (who also rejected his qualifying offer) and whether or not they were going to make a run at Madison Bumgarner. Instead, the Braves snagged the best reliever on the market to bolster a bullpen that had...well...an up and down 2019 season. The Braves were very active at the trade deadline in upgrading their bullpen with the additions of Mark Melancon, Shane Greene, and Chris Martin. The addition of Smith makes it more possible that the Braves non-tender Greene now, although that is far from a certainty.

In 63 games with the Giants in 2019, the lefty Smith posted a 1.2 fWAR season with a 2.76 ERA and 3.23 FIP while striking out 13.22 batters per nine innings. He was even better in 2018 when he posted a 2.0 fWAR season.