As you probably heard at some point on Friday, Kevin Kiermaier is the latest MLB injury casualty. He fractured his right hip Thursday, and is scheduled to miss 6-8 weeks.
Goodbye, Kiermaier. Hello, Mallex Smith.
Smith is Tampa Bay’s new centerfielder, and it looks like he’ll get a trial as the leadoff man, too. We’ve been talking about Smith for a while — perhaps you remember his 88-steal season in the minors back in 2014 — but he’s still just 24.
Smith’s brief time in the majors hasn’t amounted to much — a .241/.319/.358 slash over 81 games, with three homers and 19 steals in 27 attempts. But perhaps he’s at the right maturity level to raise things a notch. He was performing well over 30 games at Triple-A Durham: .311/.345/.477, three homers, 16 steals (albeit he was also caught seven times).
Homers are up in today’s MLB and steals are down, which means we need fewer bags to compete. But sometimes a rabbit runs into your life and you can’t say no. Smith is scarcely owned in Yahoo leagues (three percent), though he’s been one of the most aggressive adds of the day. Maybe the story is finally ready to go somewhere.
There will be some formats where a Smith add won’t make sense — he won’t do enough things, or you’ll have better waiver choices. But I do know that in the three deep mixers of mine where Smith would be a valuable pickup, he’s long gone. This one’s for the deep-league players. Give it a look.
Update, 10:12 pm ET: Smith had a snappy first day back: three steals and a home run, rocking the leadoff spot. This big game doesn’t tell us where the story is headed, of course, but it at least justifies that we buy a ticket. Plausible upside exists, so give it a shot.