PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates picked up another left-handed relief option on Wednesday, acquiring Josh Smoker from the Mets in exchange for lefty Daniel Zamora and cash considerations.The Mets designated Smoker for assignment last Friday to make room for infielder Jose Reyes. Rather than placing a waiver claim and hoping to
PITTSBURGH -- The Pirates picked up another left-handed relief option on Wednesday, acquiring Josh Smoker from the Mets in exchange for lefty Daniel Zamora and cash considerations.
The Mets designated Smoker for assignment last Friday to make room for infielder Jose Reyes. Rather than placing a waiver claim and hoping to land him, Pittsburgh swung a deal for the hard-throwing 29-year old. Smoker posted a 5.11 ERA and 1.70 WHIP with 68 strikeouts in 56 1/3 innings over 54 relief appearances last season.
Smoker has Minor League options remaining, so he can be sent to Triple-A Indianapolis if he does not make Pittsburgh's Opening Day bullpen. The Pirates had an open spot on their 40-man roster, as lefty Nik Turley was placed on the restricted list following the announcement of his 80-game suspension.
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Closer Felipe Rivero, starter Steven Brault, reliever Jack Leathersich (also a former Met) and Smoker are the only left-handed pitchers on the Pirates' 40-man roster.
Smoker, a first-round Draft pick in 2007, struggled through injuries and wound up playing independent ball in 2014. The Mets signed him in 2015, and he made his Major League debut in '16. Smoker made New York's Opening Day roster this year before being optioned to Triple-A on May 9.
After going on the disabled list from June 14-July 20 with a left shoulder strain, Smoker recorded a 2.63 ERA and 1.54 WHIP for the Mets in the second half. Overall, Smoker owns a 5.02 ERA in the Majors.
Smoker has racked up high strikeout totals, whiffing 28 percent of the batters he's faced in the Majors, but he has struggled to keep the ball in the park (1.76 home runs per nine innings) and saw his walk rate climb to 12 percent last season.
According to Statcast™, Smoker's four-seam fastball averaged 94.6 mph. He is the latest young, hard-throwing reliever acquired by the Pirates this offseason, as they also added right-handers Michael Feliz (96.3 mph) and Kyle Crick (95 mph) via trade.
Zamora, who turns 25 in April, was the Pirates' 40th-round Draft pick in 2015. The lefty posted a 1.86 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 61 strikeouts in 37 games last year for Class A Advanced Bradenton.
Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.