Tim Kurkjian was a guest on Buster Olney’s “Baseball Tonight” podcast when he was asked to name three “sleepers” for the 2015 season.

The second player Kurkjian named was Drew Smyly and the praise was so good that Kurkjian even mentioned that one manager told him they would rather have Smyly in their rotation than David Price, whom Smyly was traded for:

“Go look at his numbers after he went to the Rays last year. They were just great. And I know certain managers and players around the league don’t want any part of him. Hitters of course. And one manager told me, ‘If you line up David Price here, and Drew Smyly here, for the next five years, I’ll take Drew Smyly’s numbers anytime over David Price,’ which I thought was quite the surprise. And another manager told me that there are guys on his team who want no part of Drew Smyly with that arm angle and the way that he hides the ball. It is really difficult to pick up. So once he gets healthy, I think he has a chance to be a really, really good pitcher.”

A lot of people criticized the David Price trade when it happened. And even though I pointed out at the time why it was a brilliant move, even I didn’t think Smyly would out-pitch Price and post a 1.70 ERA over seven starts in August in September.

However, not only did the Rays see a good, young pitcher who won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season. They also saw a pitcher they thought they could make even better. So the Rays had Smyly start throwing his fastball up in the strikezone to produce more flyballs and he got better.

In other words, the success wasn’t a fluke and if Smyly can stay healthy, he could have a huge year.



  1. Gus says:

    If Smyly pitches like he did for the Rays last season, it will be the greatest trade the team has ever made because of Smyly, even if Franklin and Adames don't pan out (and nobody saw that coming, not even Cork). He was crazy good. But let's see him repeat that, let's seem him be healthy and be the workhorse before we declare victory there.

    But those managers are dead right-- Smyly was beyond awesome and Price (against the very best hitters) will get hit some at this point in his career.

    I didn't like the trade for two reasons -- first, it was management giving up on the 2014 season in which the Rays had made an historic climb back to .500 (you might recall they tanked completely in the week after the trade)and might have had something to play for in the fall and second, I felt like it wasn't enough coming back on the offensive side and they might have done better with a winter trade. But whoever had the Smyly scouting was dead on. Full credit so far.

  2. Ray says:

    I can agree with this completely. Smyly is a very good pitcher and has the chance to get even better. Price is also very good, admittedly, but he's very likely reached his ceiling where Smyly has not. So, look ahead 5 years, very likely Smyly would be much better than Price at that point.

  3. Tony says:

    As soon as we picked up Smyly, i was excited. Sad to have lost Price, but Smyly was more than decent when he started in a Rays uni. Couldnt agree more about this.

  4. Mr. Smith 1980 says:

    Maybe the anonymous manager was Kevin Cash :)

  5. Gus says:

    Somebody break up the Rays offense!!!! it is the Hit Show 2.0 late in spring training (I know, lots of backups, etc.). But a starving man is going to enjoy any double digit Rays scores he can can find. And some power showing up too. Bring on the Orioles . . .

  6. Dave L says:

    I am and was happy with the deal but 1.70 or anything even close is unsustainable.

    Plus these young pitchers are so fragile due to their over specialization as a youth.

    I will be happy with solid and healthy


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