Dom Smith heading to Nats on 1-year deal

January 5th, 2023

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals prioritized adding a lefty bat to their lineup this offseason, and they did so with Dominic Smith on Wednesday, when their one-year deal with the first baseman/outfielder was officially announced.

Terms weren't disclosed, but Smith's deal is for $2 million and includes another $2 million in performance bonuses, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Right-hander A.J. Alexy was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

Smith, 27, was non-tendered by the Mets in November after he hit .194 without a home run in 58 games. The former 11th overall pick in the 2013 Draft played the first six seasons of his Major League career in Queens.

Smith could factor into the Nationals’ roster construction at multiple positions: During his introductory Zoom call on Wednesday, he spoke about the Nationals’ interest in him playing first base, where he has logged 1,152 innings and made 20 starts in 2022. Joey Meneses finished the season starting at first, but he could be shifted to the designated hitter role.

Smith has played the majority of his innings in left field, where the Nats will need a starter if Lane Thomas shifts to right. Smith has a career .979 fielding percentage in 1,330 frames in left, most recently starting 107 games at the position in 2021.  

The Nationals also could tab Smith as the designated hitter, or one of several if they address the role by committee. He made 14 starts as the DH last season.

Smith is looking for an offensive turnaround in a new NL East uniform. A career .246/.308/.424 hitter with 46 homers in 447 games, Smith broke out in the shortened 2020 season, posting a .993 OPS with 10 homers and 21 doubles in 50 games. But he struggled to replicate that success in the following seasons and was demoted to the Minors last year before being non-tendered.

“For me, [I want to get] back to what I do really well, and that’s consistently making hard contact and just being in a better position in my legs, which I kind of got away from,” Smith said. “I just want to pick up on that and just continue to control the strike zone and not chase. I think I’m at my best when I’m just letting the pitchers come to me and not trying to do too much.”

The Nationals have added other veterans to their roster via non-tendered free agents this offseason. In November, they signed Jeimer Candelario, 29, to a one-year contract following his six-year tenure with the Tigers.

Smith is the second former Met to join the Nats this winter after right-hander Trevor Williams inked a two-year deal with Washington in December. Smith and Williams were teammates from 2021-22.