NEW YORK -- The Mets added left-handed reliever Josh Smoker to their 40-man roster on Thursday, thereby protecting him from next month's Rule 5 Draft.
Smoker, 26, burst onto the radar this summer after spending time in the Independent Frontier League. He advanced all the way from Class A Savannah to Double-A Binghamton, posting a combined 3.12 ERA over 41 games. Had he been on the Mets' 40-man roster at the time, he would have merited strong consideration for a September callup.
By protecting Smoker, the Mets assured themselves another in-house candidate for a job as a lefty specialist next spring. The team hopes to have Josh Edgin back reasonably close to Opening Day, and Jack Leathersich at some point during the summer. The Mets could also look to re-sign Jerry Blevins, who filled that role for a while but twice fractured his arm. For most of the season, the Mets struggled to find a reliable lefty specialist; Smoker, who has some additional upper-level experience, could ultimately develop into a long-term option.
A first-round Draft pick of the Nationals in 2007, Smoker lasted five years in that organization before injuries prompted the Nats to cut him. He resurfaced in Independent ball two years later, performing well enough for the Mets to sign him last spring.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.