The Boston Red Sox recently designated 42-year-old pitcher John Smoltz for assignment. Typically, with a veteran like Smoltz, this means the player will be traded or released within the next 10 days.

Buster Olney suggests that the Cubs, among other teams, will be kicking the tires on Smoltz for a spot in the bullpen. Of course, Smoltz is making a lot of money for a guy with an ERA north of eight.

The interest from National League teams is likely conditional, given the fact that Smoltz posted an 8.32 ERA for the Red Sox and allowed eight homers in his final 15 innings. It is highly unlikely that any NL team would be willing to take Smoltz in a trade without some financial adjustment from the Red Sox, perhaps with Boston kicking in money to pay off a large portion of his base salary and roster bonus. Interested teams could also gamble and wait for Boston to simply release Smoltz, and sign him for the prorated minimum.

Smoltz hasn’t been a reliever in five years, but is just one year removed from being a very successful starter.

Smoltz’s velocity is still good this year, his K-rate, and his BB-rate are both acceptable. He’s just getting hit like whoa. Perhaps if he heads back to the pen and starts letting it all loose, he’ll get it back. Though even with the Cubs’ late-inning troubles, it’s hard to imagine Smoltz transitioning teams and roles quickly and effectively enough to make a difference in the Cubs’ pen.

Even if the Cubs want to make a move for Smoltz, because we are now in the waiver period for trades, every team in the American League would have to pass on him, and then every team in the National League with a worse record than the Cubs would have to pass on him before the Cubs would get a bite.

  • Doctor Good

    The Cubs should pick up Smoltz to serve as the closer they’ve lacked all year, and that they’ll need for the stretch run to catch the Cards and/or win the Wild Card race. Coupled with Ted Lilly’s return (strong return performance last night vs. San Diego), and the imminent and much needed return of staff ace Carlos Zambrano, Smoltz would provide an added boost to the pitching staff for the final six-week push and the playoffs.

    Smoltz is money for 1-to-2 innings, much like Mariano Rivera has been for more than a decade for the Yankees, as he showed when he closed for the Braves between 2002-2004. For those three years, he was one of baseball’s most dominating closers, saving 55, 45 and 44 games. The Cubs could ask him to close for the balance on this season to make a playoff run, and offer him a guaranteed contract and shot at the starting rotation in 2010. Picking up Smoltz would also have the added benefit of keeping him away from the Cardinals, who are also looking for a more consistent closer to support a resurgent starting pitching staff, thanks to Carpenter’s strong return to the rotation. Cubs would be crazy not to give it shot.

    • The_MICK

      We already have enough aging players on this team, if it isnt one problem its another, i think our shoes were just too big too fill this year and the entire team can’t sync up. We have the talent now we need the timing.

    • Ace

      I imagine the Cubs kicked the tires, but there’s reason to believe he’s no better than what the Cubs already have. He’s clearly not quite right physically (or he’s just suffering from “old”). Even if Smoltz is light’s out, he alone doesn’t make the difference. The offense has to pick it up.

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