Nationals acquire former Met, Dominic Smith
Mr. Smith is coming to Washington. The Washington Nationals finalized a one-year agreement with former New York Met, Dominic Smith. As a left-handed batter, Smith fills a strategic, key position for the Nats. Smith was a first-round pick by the Mets in 2013 (11th overall) and spent six seasons with them. But New York did not offer Smith a contract after the 2022 season, and he became a free agent.
After batting .194 with zero home runs with the Mets through 58 games last season, Smith was demoted to the Mets triple-A affiliate in Syracuse. After spraining his right ankle and missing three weeks, Smith more than stabilized himself by batting .284 with 10 HR, 38 RBI, 25 walks, and 4 steals in 54 games with the Syracuse Mets.
Smith is not known for his defense, but he is versatile. Smith could play 1B, OF, and DH as needed with the Nationals. But Smith is hoping to play every day at 1B next season.
Dominic Smith, meeting with Nats reporters on Zoom, says he’s been led to believe he’ll be in the everyday lineup, primarily playing first base.
— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) January 4, 2023
Per FanGraphs, he’s a little bit better with the glove at 1B (.992 fielding percentage) compared to the outfield (.979) in basically an equal number for games at each position for his career to date.
According to FanGraphs, Smith maintained an above-average contact rate when swinging at pitches in the strike zone in 2022. (88.4% compared to the MLB average of 85.3%). Smith can also bang the ball all over the field as this spray chart shows.
In terms of intangibles, I think this was a very good pick up for the Nationals for several reasons. Outside of it being a low-risk one-year deal, this guy plays with heart and passion. Moving away from “hitter unfriendly” Citi Field should help Smith’s batting average in 2023. Hitting without a shifting defense could also help Smith’s cause.
Smith is my early pick for comeback player of the year in 2023. Smith is familiar with the National League East and a change of scenery at age 27 is a good landing platform for him. I’m looking forward to when Smith faces Max Scherzer for the first time at Nats Park.