1 contract extension the Dodgers should make soon and 1 to avoid
By Eric Treuden
The Los Angeles Dodgers should not extend Will Smith.
Yes, you read that right. Such a statement is sure to upset fans of the Dodgers, but there's a method to the madness.
Smith, 28, has spent the last two seasons establishing himself as one of the better young catchers in the game. In 2021, he hit 25 home runs with 76 RBI and an OPS+ of 127. He followed that up last year by hitting 24 home runs and driving in 87. His 127 wRC+ from last season was the third-best in all of baseball at the catcher position behind only J.T. Realmuto and Sean Murphy (amongst qualifying backstops).
During the 2022-2023 offseason, Smith actually began to find his name pop up in trade rumors fueled by MLB insiders. Obviously, catchers of his caliber don't just grow on trees, so why on earth would the Dodgers even consider such a move?
There are two reasons for such a move to be in the realm of possibility, and their names are Diego Cartaya and Dalton Rushing.
Cartaya, 21, is the organization's No. 1 prospect and is widely expected to be the team's catcher of the future. Last year at just 20 years old, he hit 22 doubles and 22 home runs with 72 RBI in just 95 games. He showed off a highly impressive eye at the plate, drawing a ton of walks along the way, and looked mature beyond his years both at the plate and behind it.
This past offseason, the Dodgers put Cartaya on the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. At this point, his big league debut is not terribly far off, putting a ton of pressure on someone like Smith.
Then there's Rushing, a 22-year-old backstop who is the organization's No. 7 prospect entering the current season (also per MLB Pipeline). He, like Cartaya, had a monstrous year in the minors last year and could already be forcing the Dodgers' hands in the immediate future.
Rushing swings it from the left side and only just made his professional debut last year. In 30 games split between two levels, he hit 11 doubles and eight home runs with 30 RBI. He also walked (22) as many times as he struck out and had a .404 (!!!) batting average. He's already beginning to get some reps at first base, too, so he could either take over behind the plate for the Dodgers in the near future or give the club another option at 1B/DH.
Either way, it seems that Smith's days are numbered in Los Angeles. He is obviously an incredible talent, but some of the emerging prospects underneath him on the totem pole are beginning to make so much noise that they can't be kept down forever. Smith is a free agent at the conclusion of the 2025 season, so flip him for a massive package and see what you have in the young guys.