Is John Smoltz worth the risk?


It’s funny, because nobody was asking this question at the beginning of the season. Every baseball fan thought the Red Sox made a wise move in signing Smoltz. Unfortunately, after a disastrous return from the DL, the Red Sox decided to place the future Hall of Famer on waivers. Down but not out, the 42 year-old Smoltz is essentially saying, “F-that” and is looking for a new team.

The Dodgers, Rangers, Cardinals and Marlins are among the teams that will be interested in Smoltz if he becomes a free agent, sources said.

A trade is possible because Smoltz has cleared waivers, but the bonuses in his contract would complicate negotiations with the Red Sox.

A release is more likely, according to major-league executives.

Smoltz receives about $35,000 for each day he is on the active roster and other appearance-based bonuses. He also receives a $500,000 bonus if he is on the active roster and not the disabled list on the last day of the season and a $500,000 bonus if he is traded.

If Boston releases Smoltz, the Red Sox will be obligated to pay the remainder of his one-year, $5.5 million contract he signed in the offseason.

Wow. Looks like Smoltz and his agent worked out a pretty sweet deal during the offseason. In the twilight of my career, I’d love to make $35 grand a day and not have to do anything. Joking aside, I know Smoltz still wants to play. Just because he came back and was disastrous as a starter doesn’t mean he couldn’t help a playoff contender in a relief role. People forget that before joining the Red Sox, Smoltz had spent his entire career in the National League. He has plenty of experience as both a starter and closer. In 21 seasons, Smoltz has earned eight All-Star selections, 212 wins, 154 saves, 3,044 strikeouts, a Cy Young award, and a World Series ring. Not to mention, as we head down the stretch, the guy has more post-season wins than any pitcher in the history of baseball. Hmm, I think somebody will pick him up.

But who? It’s obvious no American League team will take a crack at him considering how hitters in that league owned him. He’s still owed a couple million dollars from his contract, so Smoltz is only desirable to a serious World Series contender from the NL. That being said, I doubt the Rockies, Giants, Brewers, Cubs, Marlins, or even the Braves, his old club, will bite. The way the Phillies have been playing, they look like the most stable team in the National League. Even though Brad Lidge is currently as good as a human tee, manager Charlie Manuel has kept his faith in the troubled closer. Besides Lidge, the rest of the Phillies relief has been solid. As for the Marlins, they could use Smoltz in the closing role, as both Matt Lindstrom and Leo Nunez have been shaky all year. Still, they are the Marlins, and I can’t see them spending the money. That leaves the Cardinals and Dodgers. Ryan Franklin has been a pleasant surprise as the Cardinals closer, but the team could use Smoltz in their middle relief. I just wonder how much much they’re willing to invest in a risk like Smoltz, especially after picking up the $6 million left on Matt Holliday’s contract.

Before the trade deadline, the Dodgers acquired Orioles closer George Sherrill for next to nothing. He’s currently being used as a setup man for Jonathan Broxton. After being so dominant at the beginning of the season, Broxton is now struggling, and the Dodgers are in need of another reliever familiar with high-pressure situations. This is where John Smoltz and the Dodgers make sense. When Manny Ramirez was suspended earlier this season for steroid use, he had to return $7.7 million of his contract to the Dodgers. This money could be used to sign the veteran pitcher.

I’d love to see Smoltz pitch again in the playoffs so I hope a deal gets done. We’ll find out soon enough, as the Red Sox need to either trade or release him by Monday.

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