Minnesota Twins: Grading the Joe Smith Deal and his Bullpen Fit

Houston Astros relief pitcher Joe Smith throws a pitch against the Oakland Athletics. (Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports)
Houston Astros relief pitcher Joe Smith throws a pitch against the Oakland Athletics. (Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports) /

While Minnesota Twins fans were left with their heads spinning after the team made the biggest splash in Twins free agent history, the team quietly made another move that could have a major impact on the team as the season moves along:

While most Minnesota sports fans see the name Joe Smith and think of the player that cost the Minnesota Timberwolves five first round picks in a tampering scandal, this Joe Smith is going to have a very different impact in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Twins added reliever Joe Smith to a one year, $2.5 million deal on Saturday morning.

Smith, who turns 38 on March 22nd, agreed to a one year, $2.5 million major league pact that will add a more established arm to what is still for the most part a very young bullpen. He may not have a lot of speed on his pitches, but at 38 that’s not what you’re looking for.

Smith has seen fourteen years as a big league pitcher, and with the exception of 2021, his ERA never moved over 3.83. In 2021, he had an awful start to the year, posting a 7.48 ERA and getting shelled to a rate of 14.5 H/9. He was then moved to Seattle, where he bounced back to his normal self, posting a 2.00 ERA and drastically improving his other numbers.

He doesn’t strike out a lot of batters, and he never has, but he limits walks extremely well and doesn’t give up too many hits. He has three solid pitches, but how has he maintained this much success without any exceptional ones? Well, his submariner from might help:

The Twins added a solid reliever for a decent price of $2.5 million. But how does he fit into their plans for this season? He’s not a closer, but Smith is exactly the type of reliever you add when you’re planning to make a playoff run.

He’s not a closer, but he’s an extremely reliable arm for a team that is eyeing a run at the postseason. He’ll be a reliable arm for when you’re trying to get from the fifth to the seventh and could eat up innings in the playoffs.

Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Caleb Thielbar will handle the high leverage work, Joe Smith and Jorge Alcala will handle the other key innings, Ralph Garza Jr., Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton, and Cody Stashak will cover the rest.

Grading the deal for the Minnesota Twins

After adding Carlos Correa, the Twins’ lineup is mostly set. The dust is just about settled on the bullpen too, with another reliever unlikely. The team is still poking around the starting pitching trade market. For right now though, the roster picture is becoming a lot clearer.

Sure, there were a few better relief options still on the market, but this is an all-around solid move to bolster the depth of the bullpen. If he can return to his career norms (or even better, his numbers in Seattle from last year), the Twins added a solid bullpen arm for cheap. The team still needs one more starter though, so they have to shore up the rotation too. Let’s see what they do.

Grade: B.

Next. Why Ryan Jeffers is the Most Important Minnesota Twins Player in 2022. dark