Smith, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract with the Royals in December, is viewed as the leading candidate to serve as the team's closer to begin the season, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic
Though he sacrificed more save chances to Aroldis Chapman
, Jose Leclerc
and Josh Sborz
toward the end of the 2023 campaign, Smith still converted 22 of his 27 save opportunities over 60 appearances with Texas during the regular season and turned in solid peripherals (3.28 xERA, 1.06 WHIP, 16.8 K-BB%) over his 57.1 innings. Smith's left-handedness has occasionally worked against him at various points in his career of capturing a full-time closing role, but he should have a clearer path to the ninth-inning gig while he's part of a Kansas City bullpen that's lacking in much established talent. James McArthur
and Nick Anderson
probably represent the top threats to challenge him for the closing gig, but Smith's strong track record as well as his bigger contract than the other two helps his case for holding down the fort at the back end of the bullpen. Royals manager Matt Quatraro will likely shed more light on his plans at closer as spring training unfolds, but for now, fantasy players should draft Smith as the presumptive favorite to see the bulk of the save chances.