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Multiple MLB teams reportedly expected to pursue Dominic Smith in free agency

Matt Johnson
Dominic Smith
John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Dominic Smith seemed to be emerging as one of the top, young sluggers in MLB during the 2020 season with the New York Mets. Two years later, the former top prospect is looking for a fresh start after being non-tendered by the club.

In the COVID-shortened 2020 season, with the Mets’ lineup in desperate need of a spark, Smith provided it. The 6-foot slugger delivered a .316/.377/.616 slash line, driving in 42 RBI with 10 home runs in 50 games.

Related: Top MLB free agents 2022-’23

New York believed it had an emerging star. Smith’s .993 OPS, .299 isolated power and 166 wRC+ all suggested he could be a core fixture in the lineup for years to come. Unfortunately, he has been anything but in the last two seasons.

For the 27-year-old, this past season only made things worse. Posting a batting average (.194) below the Mendoza line with a sub-.280 OBP. With first base blocked by Pete Alonso and Smith a defensive liability in the corner outfield, he quickly lost out on at-bats and only played in 58 games during the regular season.

Smith’s 2022 season made the decision easy for New York. It non-tendered him this week, freeing up payroll and a roster spot for a more versatile and productive player. While Smith’s days in New York are over, he seems to be drawing interest as a free agent.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals are among the teams many around MLB expect to pursue Smith.

If the Rays get involved in the mix for Smith, they are a viable landing spot. The organization has a long track record of turning reclamation projects (Manuel Margot, Harold Ramirez, Jeffrey Springs) into useful contributors.

Signing a one-year deal with Tampa Bay or any other MLB club would be a steep decline from where many thought Smith would be a few years ago. However, there is still enough talent for him to be a productive MLB player over the next three seasons.