Boston Red Sox
After a terrible start, the Red Sox have clawed their way back in contention for at least a wild-card spot and will be looking to strengthen their roster as we approach the latter stages of the season. With a relative lack of experienced options in the bullpen, and employing a committee approach to the closer role, they would benefit hugely from someone with Smith’s profile. Unlike some teams, they would not flinch at taking on Smith’s $4.25 million contract for the remainder of the season.
Tampa Bay Rays
After a very strong start to the season, the Rays are slipping out of contention for the AL East title and now have one eye on the wildcard race. Couple this with the fact that their bullpen is tied for first in MLB by FanGraphs WAR (2.7), and the Rays seem like an unlikely landing spot on the surface. Still, their creative approach to building a staff and reliance on strong pitching puts them in the conversation.
Another team employing a closer-by-committee, the Twins have a balanced bullpen with no standout performers so far in 2019. With a strong rotation that has swallowed the bulk of the team’s innings, the Twins have called on their relievers to pitch just 147 innings, which is the fifth-fewest in MLB. If their bullpen starts to see more action down the stretch, strengthening it could become a priority. At the moment, they need Smith less than some of the other contenders.
The Indians kept their powder dry through the offseason, perhaps wrongly expecting to win the AL Central comfortably. They have a fight on their hands now to secure the division title, although they might see hitting as more of a priority given that only three teams in the AL have produced just 1.5 wins above replacement with the bat. On top of that, Smith is very unlikely to unseat established closer Brad Hand, so I feel he is unlikely to end up in Cleveland.