The A’s may be clearing out their roster of most anyone making veteran money, but at least they’re getting back some MLB-ready talent along with long-term prospects. One of those players ready to step in right away is Kevin Smith, who comes over from Toronto in the Matt Chapman deal.
Smith ranks No. 261 on our RotoProspects Top 500 Rankings, staying right where he was since a downgrade in home ballpark balances out an upgrade in opportunity. He goes from the Blue Jays’ No. 6 prospect to No. 11 on the A’s list, second among shortstops behind only 2021 draftee Max Muncy.
The Blue Jays selected Smith with in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of Maryland. By 2018, he was ripping through Low- and High-A for a combined line of .302 with 25 homers and 29 steals. He slumped to .209 at Double-A in 2019, but still hit 19 homers, before sitting out the pandemic year.
Smith exploded back on the scene in 2021, posting an impressive .285/.370/.561 triple-slash with 21 homers and 18 steals in 94 games at Triple-A. He got a taste of the majors down the stretch, but went just 3-for-32 with one homer.
Scouting-wise, Smith made swing adjustments before his 2021 breakout, which helped him get to more pitches and get his hit tool closer to average with enough speed and baseball acumen to reach double-digits in steal in the majors. Since he can handle shortstop and has also played second and third base well, it looks more like the profile of a utilityman.
Smith is being penciled in as the A’s Opening Day third baseman for now, although check back when the dust clears from what promises to be more trades in Oakland. The A’s top third base prospect is Zack Gelof, who should reach Oakland sometime this season, Smith could wind up back at shortstop, especially if incumbent starter Elvis Andrus is dealt as expected. Then Smith would have to fend off defensive whiz Nick Allen at shortstop, or else drop back into more of a super utility role.
We had him projected to hit .230 with 12 homers and 6 steals in 298 plate appearances before the trade, but have bumped him up to 14 homers and 8 steals in 349 PA after the deal. If Smith can take advantage of the opportunity, the 25-year-old could establish himself as a starter and put up something like .250, 20 HR, 15 SB lines over the next few years. Or he could wind up your typical A’s part-timer who can’t get over the 300-PA hump and thus is more of an AL-only fantasy asset.