The Rays are nearing a deal with catcher Kevan Smith, MLBTR has learned. It’s expected to be a minor-league arrangement with an invitation to MLB spring training.
Smith, 32, spent this past season with the Rays after signing a minor-league pact last offseason. He was twice selected to the big league roster but only picked up 38 plate appearances. While Smith hit well in that limited time, the Rays outrighted him off the roster earlier this offseason.
The veteran backstop has earned big league playing time in each of the past five years. Over 746 career plate appearances with the White Sox, Angels and Rays, Smith has slashed a solid .272/.321/.384 and hit 13 home runs. That’s better offensive output than that of most catchers, but Smith has never rated as a particularly good defender. He’s gotten below-average marks for his pitch framing, per Statcast, and has only thrown out 15.4% of attempted basestealers throughout his career.
There’s seemingly plenty of opportunity for Smith to win another big league job with a strong showing in spring training. The Rays lost Michael Pérez on waivers to the Pirates in October. Mike Zunino and prospect Ronaldo Hernandez, who has yet to reach Double-A, are the only catchers on the Rays’ 40-man roster at the moment.