The Dodgers and Will Smith will not be going to an ugly arbitration hearing designed to sow seeds of dissension and mistrust between players and teams. Instead, they happily agreed on a contract that makes both sides happy, the way the Big Dodger in the Sky intended it.
Smith had been projected to make $5,435,452 in arbitration, so this represents a savings of $185,452, helping Los Angeles inch down closer to the luxury tax line. They’ll likely still need to make a transaction to actually get under, especially after adding Miguel Rojas and his $5 million salary this week, but every little bit helps.
Smith gets his first big payday as a big-leaguer, a massive 600% raise over the $730,000 he made in 2022, and it is richly deserved. In Smith’s first four seasons, he’s amassed 10.6 WAR, which means he’s been worth over $80 million and has made about $2 million. The star catcher was snubbed (again) in the All-Star voting last year, so he’ll have to settle for being widely considered one of the top two or three catchers in baseball.
The 2022 season represented career highs for Smith in games played, plate appearances, at-bats, hits, doubles, and WAR. The presence of Austin Barnes as a solid backup allowed Smith to play designated hitter on some of the days he wasn’t catching, although the addition of full-time DH J.D. Martinez might change that plan in 2023.
But whatever role Smith is filling, he’ll get paid better for it this year, and that’s good news.
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