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Dodgers sign Will Smith for $5.25 million to avoid arbitration

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers avoided arbitration with catcher Will Smith before Friday’s deadline to exchange salaries. Smith and the Dodgers came to agreement on a $5.25-million contract for 2023, per multiple reports.

With three years, 90 days of major league service time, Smith was eligible for salary arbitration for the first time this offseason.

Most catcher HR since Will Smith’s debut

Catcher Team(s) HR
Catcher Team(s) HR
Salvador Perez KC 82
Will Smith LA 72
Gary Sánchez NYY/Min 67
J.T. Realmuto Phi 67
Willson Contrera ChC 62
since May 28, 2019 Sources: FanGraphs & Baseball Reference

The Dodgers catcher hit .260/.343/.465 with 24 home runs, 26 doubles, and a 127 wRC+ last season, and led all major league catchers with 87 runs batted in. Smith earned second-team All-MLB honors for his 2022 campaign in December.

Smith was such an integral part to a Dodgers lineup that led the majors in runs scored that he batted cleanup 88 times and third in 23 more games. Smith even started 24 times at designated hitter in addition to 106 starts behind the plate, allowing him to set a career high with 578 plate appearances, trailing only Sean Murphy among major league catchers.

In parts of four seasons, Smith is a .261/.356/.501 hitter with a 132 wRC+. Since his major league debut in 2019, Smith’s 72 home runs are second-most among major league catchers, trailing only Salvador Perez of the Royals.

Smith made $730,000 in salary last season, plus another nearly $1 million more as part of the new MLB bonus pool for players not yet eligible for salary arbitration.

My guess for Smith’s 2023 salary was $5.5 million, while the folks at MLB Trade Rumors projected $5.2 million this season for the catcher. Jeff Euston at Cot’s Contracts correctly predicted $5.25 million for Smith.