Alex Anthopoulos just signed arguably the best reliever on the open market. Former Giants closer, Will Smith, is moving across the country near his hometown of Newnan, Georgia, on a three-year, $40 million deal – the Braves announced today.
The 6’5″, 250-pound southpaw was handed the closer’s role back in 2018 for the Giants and never looked back. He saved 14 out of 18 games that year and 34 out of 38 in 2019, finishing las season with a 6-0 record and 2.72 ERA in 63 appearances. However, despite his success, and the Braves troubles in the ninth, David O’Brien of The Athletic reports the plan is for Melancon to enter 2020 as the team’s closer.
#Braves still planning to have Melancon be their primary closer. Things can change, of course, but that's the plan. Melancon only under contract one more season (at $14M). Will Smith, his former Giants teammate, is signed for 3 w/ 4th-year option.
— David O'Brien (@DOBrienATL) November 14, 2019
As O’Brien mentioned, Smith and Melancon were teammates in San Francisco. And the last time they were on the same team, Smith was the closer before Melancon was traded to Atlanta.
Melancon pitched better than his numbers showed in the final couple of months for the Braves. His FIP sat at 1.83, while his ERA was 3.86 in 23 appearances. He was perfect in save opportunities during the regular season, going 11 out of 11, so it’s understandable why the Braves wouldn’t just hand the duties over to Smith. Melancon is only under contract for one more season at 14 million dollars. This will all sort itself out, but you have to think eventually Will Smith will be the closer for the Braves in the near future.
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