In a similar start to last offseason, the Atlanta Braves jumped out early in the free agent market, signing relief pitcher Will Smith to a three-year, $40 million deal, which includes a club option for a fourth year with a $1 million buyout. Last year it was the additions of Josh Donaldson on a one-year, prove-it deal that worked out well for the Braves, as well as bringing back Brian McCann for his second duty with the team.
With that said, the Braves’ aggressive approach to free agency, or the fact that the club filled a need by signing the best reliever available, wasn’t the biggest takeaway. Smith’s deal, which was first announced by the club, came with minutes to spare before the deadline to accept or reject the qualifying offer, something which Smith was considering.
The Athletic‘s Ken Rosenthal and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman both touched on how Smith’s representation used the qualifying offer and the deadline to their advantage. Basically what they said to teams was, “you give us the deal we are looking for now or we’ll take the qualifying offer and enter the market next season without the draft pick attached.”
Now, this scenario is generally for…