Burch Smith joins NPB after signing with Seibu Lions


Burch Smith was at a crossroads in his career. He was released by the Oakland A’s after the end of the 2021 season, leaving his future in the majors in doubt. While a minor-league deal was likely, it might not have been more than organizational depth.

Rather than wait 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 wants to revive his career with the Seibu Lions

Smith has been a bit of a baseball vagabond since he was drafted in the 14th round in 2014. He was part of seven different organizations before signing in Japan to find some consistency.

It seemed like Smith had it with the A’s. He had an impressive performance during his time in 2020, albeit in a small sample size. Smith allowed just three runs from seven hits and one walk through his 12 innings and knocked out 13 batters. There was hope that Smith could play a key role in advancing A’s bullpen.

Instead, Smith returned to his typical career norms in 2021. While his 31 appearances and 43.1 innings were the most he’s had in the majors since 2018, he posted a 5.40 ERA and a 1,385 WHiP and hit 28 batters with 11 walks.

As he will be 32 at the start of the 2022 season, it’s possible Smith can rebuild his career. A strong performance with the Lions could be what he needs to get back on track and become a viable option in a major league bullpen. Other mid-range guns have successfully taken this route in the past, so it’s certainly worth a try.

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Former Oakland A replacement Burch Smith has signed with the Seibu Lions. Perhaps a stint in Japan is just what he needs to boost his career.


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