Burch Smith heading to NPB after signing with Seibu Lions
Burch Smith had come to a crossroads in his career. He had been let go by the Oakland A’s after the 2021 season had come to an end, his future in the majors in question. While a minor league contract was likely, he may not have been more than organizational depth.
Instead of waiting for a major league offer that may never come, Smith is looking to rebuild his career. He has signed with the Seibu Lions in Nippon Professional Baseball for the 2022 season.
Burch Smith looking to resurrect career with Seibu Lions
Smith had been a bit of a baseball vagabond since being drafted in the 14th round in 2014. He had been a part of seven different organizations before signing in Japan as he looks to find some permanency.
It appeared as though Smith had that with the A’s. He had an impressive showing during his time in 2020, albeit in a small sample size. Smith allowed just three runs on seven hits and a walk over his 12 innings, striking out 13 batters. There was the hope that Smith could be a key part of the A’s bullpen moving forward.
Instead, Smith faded back to his typical career norms in 2021. While his 31 appearances and 43.1 innings were the most he had in the majors since 2018, he posted a 5.40 ERA and a 1.385 WHiP, striking out 28 batters with 11 walks.
As he will be 32 years old at the start of the 2022 season, it is possible that Smith can rebuild his career. A strong showing with the Lions could be what he needs to get back on track, allowing him to become a viable option in a major league bullpen. Other middling arms have taken this route in the past with success, so it is certainly worth a shot.
Former Oakland A’s reliever Burch Smith has signed with the Seibu Lions. Maybe a stint in Japan will be what he needs to jumpstart his career.