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Milwaukee Brewers: Who are the relief pitcher trade targets?

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 22: Will Smith #13 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 22, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Giants won 7-4. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 22: Will Smith #13 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a pitch during the ninth inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on June 22, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Giants won 7-4. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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Will Smith, LHP, San Francisco Giants

In a market that’s very likely to be very short on elite bullpen options, Will Smith will undoubtedly

be the best relief pitcher who’s a near certainty to move this summer.

Smith is someone whom Milwaukee Brewers fans will have a lot of familiarity with. The Milwaukee Brewers had Smith from 2014 until the trade deadline in 2016. Smith emerged as an elite late-inning reliever during his tenure in Milwaukee, leading the San Francisco Giants to trade for him in July of 2016 to help them make a run at the post-season that year.

Since moving to the Giants, Smith has remained one of the better relievers in the game. He posted a WAR of two last year for the Giants, despite missing much of the first half of the season due to Tommy John surgery. He posted an incredible K/9 rate of 12.06 while walking just 2.55 batters per nine innings, and giving up just 0.55 HR/9 last season. He ended up posting career bests in ERA (2.55) and FIP (2.07) in 53 innings pitched.

In 2019, Smith has been even better. He was just named to his first MLB All-Star game. His numbers are near the top Major League Baseball in every respect for relievers.

In 36 1/3 innings so far this season, Smith is averaging a career best in K/9 (13.13), BB/9 (1.98), ERA (1.98), and FIP (2.03). He’s stranded 84.7% of runners on base, and has kept the ball in the park too despite home runs being way up across the league (his HR/9 is just 0.74). Smith is a perfect 23-23 on save opportunities on a team that’s struggled to win games.

Will Smith is the perfect option for the Milwaukee Brewers pen. As already mentioned, Milwaukee has lacked an arm outside of Josh Hader who can come in and consistently shut down games. Smith would give the Brewers another deadly lefty who can blow teams away in the late-innings.

Smith’s asking price is unlikely to be too steep either given that he’s a free agent at the end of this season. It may take one top prospect to do it, but that may be a price the Milwaukee Brewers need to pay to get the top reliever on the market. Given his level of success now, and his previous track record of success with the Milwaukee Brewers, this move makes a ton of sense for everyone involved.

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