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Royals reportedly interested in free agent Dominic Smith

The former first-round pick was non-tendered last week.

MLB: JUL 12 Mets at Braves Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last Friday was the deadline to tender or non-tender arbitration-eligible players, and dozens were added to the list of free agents. Among them was first baseman/outfielder Dominic Smith of the Mets, and according to New York Post reporter Mike Puma, the Royals could be interested in picking him up.

Smith was the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft out of high school in the Los Angeles area. He reached the big leagues with the Mets in 2017, but has been primarily a reserve player. In 2020, he broke out to hit .316/.377/.616 with 10 home runs in 50 games and finished 13th in MVP voting in the shortened season. But he regressed badly this year, hitting .233/.298/.345 with 11 home runs in 645 plate appearances over the last two seasons.

A labrum injury likely contributed to Smith’s poor 2021 season, and he found it difficult to get playing time this year at the big league level. A change of scenery and regular playing time could help unleash the potential many saw in him as a top 100 prospect at one time. A left-handed hitter, Smith actually has a reverse platoon split, and can hit lefties well. He also has been a much better hitter on the road than at home, and could benefit from getting away from Citi Field.

Now 27 years old, Smith has played some outfield, but is a liability out there. His primary position is first base, which makes the Royals’ interest in him curious. The Royals already have Nick Pratto, Vinnie Pasquantino, Ryan O’Hearn, and Hunter Dozier all capable of playing first base on a regular basis. The Royals have also talked about adding a right-handed bat to balance the lineup, yet Smith is a left-handed bat (although he hits lefties). So perhaps J.J. Picollo has more moves in mind.