Oakland A’s Burch Smith proves money was well spent
By David Mullen
The Oakland A’s purchased Burch Smith from the San Francisco Giants this offseason, and it was money well spent.
It was an exchange truly worthy of the small agate type in the transaction’s column in the daily sports pages. “On February 15, 2020, the San Francisco Giants traded RHP Burch Smith to Oakland Athletics for cash.”
It may have been of interest to Bay Area baseball fans only, as it was the first major league transaction between the A’s and Giants in 30 years. In 1990, the A’s received infielder Ernie Riles from the Giants for outfielder Darren Lewis and a player to be named later (minor league pitcher Pedro Peña).
Smith was the 14th round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2011 amateur draft and the 443rd selection overall after pitching one season at the University of Oklahoma. He made his major league debut on May 5, 2013 with the Padres.
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He languished through a stop in the minor league system of the Tampa Bay Rays. His career major league stats with four other teams – the Padres, Milwaukee Brewers, Kansas City Royals, and the Giants – going into the 2020 season was a 4-10 record with a 6.10 ERA in 146 innings and a WHIP of 1.61.
Smith missed the 2015 and 2016 seasons, recovering from Tommy John surgery. Despite the operation and rather pedestrian career statistics, the A’s saw something they liked in the 6 foot-4, 225 pound 30-year-old originally from San Antonio. In ten games with the Giants in 2019, Smith had no decisions with a 2.08 ERA.
Going into this weekend’s series versus the Giants at Oracle Park, Smith has not allowed a run in 10 1/3 innings. Batters are a collective four for 35 against him.
“He’s been an absolute godsend for us,” A’s manager Bob Melvin told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“This being my sixth team,” Birch told the Chronicle, “I’ve had a lot of instances where I can play against my former team. There’s always some of that in the back of your head. You always want to definitely pitch well against your former team.”
The A’s have called on Smith for long relief appearances and has pitched at least three innings in his last two appearances. He is 2-0 with a WHIP of 0.48.
“All I’m trying to do now is throw strikes and stay ahead of the hitter and be on the attack,” Smith said. “I think in the past, sometimes I made mistakes trying to overcomplicate things, maybe looking too much into scouting reports or almost giving the hitter too much credit sometimes.
On a video call with the press recently, teammate Frankie Montas said “He’s the type of guy that he’s not afraid. He goes out there and he attacks.”
For the Oakland A’s, acquiring Burch Smith appears to be money well spent.