Joe Smith was a reliable fixture in the Indians bullpen from 2009 to 2013; just before the trade deadline today the Indians made a deal to bring Smith back to Cleveland. Going to Toronto for Smith are LHP Thomas Pannone, a 33rd round pick from the 2012 draft (currently at Double-A Akron), and shortstop Samad Taylor, a 10th round pick from the 2016 draft (currently at short season Class-A Mahoning Valley).
Smith originally came to Cleveland the winter prior to the 2009 season in the deal that sent Franklin Gutierrez to Seattle and also brought Luis Valbuena to the Indians. He left as a free agent after the 2013 season, and was signed to a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Smith signed with the Toronto Blue Jays prior to this season on a one-year, $3 million deal. He’s owed just over $1 million for the rest of the season, which the Indians will pick up.
I think the Indians made a good move adding Smith to the pen; the sinkerballer will allow Francona a right-handed option in addition to Bryan Shaw. Even though he’s a rental, it means the Indians can still hold on to top prospects like Francisco Mejia and Triston McKenzie. Smith’s ERA is 3.28 so far this season, but his FIP is 2.31. So he’s likely been a bit better than the numbers dictate. Smith has also been strong against right-handed hitters (although his numbers against lefties are nothing to sneeze at). His numbers have also been much better away from the Rogers Center in Toronto.
An Ohio native, Smith was actually drafted in the 3rd round of the 2006 draft out of Wright State in Dayton. His mother suffers from Huntington’s Disease, so the move to Cleveland means that Smith can be closer to her. Smith’s wife, Allie LaForce, is also an Ohio native and seemed excited about the chance to return home.