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Smith encouraged by relievers' free-agent deals

Angels setup man knows he's in line for a sizable contract
MLB.com @Alden_Gonzalez

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels setup man Joe Smith quickly listed all the names and all the numbers off the top of his head:

Darren O'Day: Four years, $31 million.
Joakim Soria: Three years, $25 million.
Ryan Madson: Three years, $22 million.
Tony Sipp: Three years, $18 million.

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Angels setup man Joe Smith quickly listed all the names and all the numbers off the top of his head:

Darren O'Day: Four years, $31 million.
Joakim Soria: Three years, $25 million.
Ryan Madson: Three years, $22 million.
Tony Sipp: Three years, $18 million.

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The free-agent market was very favorable to non-closing relievers this offseason, an encouraging sign for a free-agent-to-be like Smith.

"Teams are starting to find value in those guys who are getting outs, because there are a lot of games that are won or lost in the seventh and the eighth," Smith said. "I think teams that want to compete are signing at least three guys that they can flip either way they want and can perform and get outs. You saw it in Kansas City; you saw it in San Francisco; you even saw it with us in 2014."

Smith is entering the final season of a three-year, $15 million contract he signed just before that 2014 season, which ended with Smith, Huston Street, Kevin Jepsen and Jason Grilli in the back of the bullpen. And he looks primed to sign another of equal value.

An increase in the amount of data available to evaluators and a decrease in the amount of innings absorbed by starting pitchers has led to a higher demand for shutdown bullpens and more money for relievers who don't compile saves.

Despite a relatively down year in 2015 -- 3.58 ERA, 1.27 WHIP -- Smith remains one of the best. The 31-year-old right-handed sidearmer has posted a 2.51 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP while averaging 72 appearances over the past five years. He doesn't give up a lot of home runs (18 in 337 innings in that span), doesn't walk many (2.8 per nine innings) and generates a large number of ground balls (56.5 percent).

The Angels have yet to broach the topic of an extension with Smith, but he understands.

"I'm not going to come in here pressing issues when we're trying to find a left fielder, we're trading a shortstop, bullpen -- there's just so much stuff going on," Smith said. "I'm still here. We'll deal with that one when the time comes."

And when it does, the Angels may really have to pay up.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and Facebook , and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Angels, Joe Smith