In the mad dash around baseball to make room on 40-man rosters ahead of the Rule 5 Draft, Dominic Smith was one of the casualties, designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals.
Smith, 28, was a 2013 first-round pick by the Mets and always flashed tantalizing potential, the issue being that he could never find regular playing time in New York. But in 2019 and 2020, Smith slashed .299/.366/.571 with 21 home runs, 31 doubles, 67 RBI, and a 150 OPS+ in 396 total plate appearances.
Even in his only season with the Nationals in 2023, Smith was fairly productive in a full-time role, hitting 12 home runs and 21 doubles in 527 at-bats while walking more and striking out at the lowest clip of his career at 15%. Smith has struggled plenty over the years as well, and now owns a 97 career OPS+ over seven seasons.
But still, Smith presents an intriguing bat for the outfield-starved Guardians, even if he hasn't played the outfield since 2021.
The Guardians Should Add Dominic Smith to the Outfield Mix
Truthfully, Smith is somebody who has been on my radar for years. Back when the Guardians traded Francisco Lindor to the Mets, Smith was a guy I wanted to be included in the package. At the time, Smith was coming off those two great seasons mentioned above, so it made sense the Mets were looking to hang on to their former first-round pick.
But he could just never stick in the Mets' lineup over the next two seasons, and that's how he ultimately found himself in Washington in 2023.
Assuming something major doesn't happen on the trade front or, less likely, in the free-agent world, it would be worth bringing Smith into the fold going into 2024. The Guardians have very little they can count on in the outfield beyond Steven Kwan in left; what if Smith can tap into what made 2019 and 2020 special, even if it comes in a more limited role once again?
The biggest issue would be how Smith ultimately fits on the 40-man roster; there's a reason the Nationals felt he was expendable. The Guardians themselves have their own roster crunch going on, though that could be alleviated with a trade or two (or if Cleveland decides its already done with their Oscar Gonzalez experiment).
So let's say the Guardians find a way to deal, say, Myles Straw as part of a package within the next week as well. An outfield that includes Kwan, Will Brennan in center, and some combination of Dominic Smith and Ramón Laureano - at least to start the year - sure doesn't sound too bad.