Deal between Will Smith and Royals in final stages of negotiation (source)

Former Royal Will Smith Close to Making Return to Kansas City

Rumors are swirling that former Royal Will Smith is in talks to make a return to Kansas City, with the potential to stabilize the bullpen for the 2024 season. According to a source, the Royals are finalizing a deal with lefty reliever Will Smith, which would see him return to the team on a one-year contract worth $5 million, with additional performance bonuses. The deal is currently pending a physical and has not yet been confirmed by the Royals.

Smith, now 34, started his career with the Royals in 2012, initially making 16 starts before moving to the bullpen in 2013. However, he was later traded to the Brewers for Nori Aoki in the offseason. Since then, Smith has played for five other teams over his 11-year career, and the past three seasons have seen him achieve historic success.

As a key member of the past three World Series-winning teams—the 2021 Braves, the 2022 Astros, and the 2023 Rangers—Smith has made history as the first player in MLB history to be on the World Series roster with three different teams in three consecutive years and win it all each time. This wealth of experience is exactly what the struggling Royals bullpen needs, as they ranked second-worst in ERA last season, with a desperate lack of high-leverage experience after trading away Aroldis Chapman and Scott Barlow.

The addition of Smith aims to address this issue, as the Royals look to revamp their bullpen. Smith’s impressive track record includes being an All-Star in 2019 with the Giants and achieving 37 saves in 2021 with the Braves. After a trade to the Astros in 2022, he posted a 3.27 ERA in 22 innings and then signed with the Rangers for last season, where he posted a 4.40 ERA, a 3.36 FIP, with 55 strikeouts and 17 walks across 57 1/3 innings.

The Royals are eager to integrate Smith into the back end of their bullpen alongside other key players like Nick Anderson, whom they acquired in a trade with the Braves, and younger right-handers like James McArthur and Carlos Hernández who have shown potential to close games for the team. With the hope that Smith’s experience will rub off on their own relievers, the Royals are banking on this move to help turn their bullpen performance around for the 2024 season.


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