Tampa Bay Rays: Kevan Smith the next d’Arnaud?
By Seth Carter
The Tampa Bay Rays have added two veteran catchers in the past few days.
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed veteran catchers, Kevan Smith and Chris Herrmann to minor league deals.
We took a look at some fun stats from deep within the stat-book on Herrman in an earlier article. Kevan Smith is an intriguing option for the Rays. He has been slightly below replacement level defensively but does have some strengths with the bat.
Perhaps the Rays are being a little more pre-emptive this season after injuries had them calling around the league in desperate search of a catcher. Luckily they were able to purchase Travis d’Arnaud from the Dodgers for $100K. That ended up working out pretty well.
This season they’ll already have a couple of seasoned veterans in the minor leagues, ready to fill in.
What does Kevan Smith have to offer, if his defense isn’t his calling card?
Smith is a career .272 hitter with his best season being 2018 with the White Sox. Of his four Major League seasons, Smith’s highest OPS+ was 102 in 2018. He slashed .292/.348/380.
Getting on base at around .350-clip is an acceptable number. When looking at the splits you see that Smith is a significantly better hitter against lefties. Here are his career splits:
vs. RHP: .254/.302/.348
vs. LHP: .304/.435/.439
That’s a very serviceable replacement should injuries strike. Especially on the right-hand side of a platoon. This could be another shrewd move by the Rays’ front office. They don’t make moves just to fill out roster positions, I’m sure they see something in the veteran catcher that they like.
Kevan Smith’s name may not raise any eyebrows right now, and with a career slash line of .272/.318/.381, it’s understandable.
Keep in mind, last season when d’Arnaud came to the Rays, his career slash line wasn’t really any more impressive. TDA’s career slash was .245/.306/.406. Remember how that turned out?
What do you think? Will Kevan Smith end up being a valuable piece or just organizational depth?