MILWAUKEE -- Brewers general manager Doug Melvin wanted a left-hander for Christmas so he swung a trade with the Royals earlier this month for Will Smith, a southpaw who will report to camp as a starter but could wind up in the Brewers' bullpen. Smith has a bit of big league experience in both roles, including a solid 2013 season in which he posted a 3.24 ERA in 18 relief appearances and one start.
Smith said on the day of the trade that he welcomed the move, even if it meant another round of quips about the Hollywood star who shares his name. We (mostly) avoided that trap during a telephone conversation with Smith just before the holidays.
MLB.com: What's life been like since the trade?
Smith: It's been a lot of phone calls, a lot of texts saying congratulations, all that stuff. It feels good to know that you have so many people in your corner, including everybody from the Royals, from teammates to front-office people, who have called me and told me the same thing. It feels good to know that those guys liked you over there. It's been fun and I'm excited about the new team.
MLB.com: Does being traded make a big difference in your day-to-day life?
Smith: Day to day, not really, especially because this is my second time being traded. The first time, it was way different, just because I was so young and I really didn't know what was going on. It took me a long while to realize that it's not that the Angels didn't want me, it's that the Royals wanted me more. Once I figured that part out, being traded was not that big of a deal. So this time around was way easier. I knew what to expect and I knew all that goes with it.
MLB.com: What's the one thing that Brewers fans might not know about you that they should know?
Smith: They might not know I'm a big Michael Jackson fan. I was listening to Michael Jackson before you called. I like a little MJ now and then; I couldn't pick a favorite song but I could tell you I was listening to the "Number Ones" album.
MLB.com: What are your Christmas plans this year?
Smith: Over the weekend we had the big family Christmas, where both sides get together at our aunt's house. We call it, "Aunt Janet's Christmas," pretty much. Then on Christmas day my sister will come down with her husband for our immediate family Christmas at my parents' house (near Atlanta).
My mom still wraps presents, still puts them under the tree. They still say, "From Santa." All that good stuff.
MLB.com: What's your favorite holiday memory?
Smith: We had a good one last year. Me and my sister finally had "big boy" and "big girl" jobs, so we could finally give our parents nice gifts. We got my mom a Mac desktop so she can watch the games and Skype with me and talk to my sister. She cried over that one, so that's always good.
And we got my dad the Big Green Egg (a ceramic charcoal cooker). He's been non-stop on that, smoking things, cooking things. Those things are amazing. My dad says his specialty is smoked wings.
MLB.com: What is the best gift you remember finding under the tree?
Smith: I remember one year I went through a humongous paintball phase. All of my friends, we got way into going to play paintball. But it was the same year the Xbox came out, and I was like, "Man, I want both of them." I ended up picking the paintball gun, and my mom wrapped up everything but the gun. I'm opening up paintballs, a holster, everything else you need to play, and finally I'm like, "Did I get the gun?" She had it hidden under my bed. I remember that being special -- especially because my grandma wound up getting me the Xbox. That was pretty good.
MLB.com: Not to call anyone out, but what about the worst gift?
Smith: My mom, bless her heart, she picks out some pretty bad shirts sometimes. Every now and then you have to throw on that fake smile and say, "Thanks mom." But that's rare.
MLB.com: What is atop your Christmas list this year?
Smith: I really want a Scotty Cameron putter.
MLB.com: And be honest: Are you more excited about getting gifts or giving them?
Smith: Giving, for sure.
MLB.com: Rapid fire time. Favorite classic holiday movie: "It's a Wonderful Life" or "Miracle on 34th Street"?
Smith: "It's a Wonderful Life," no doubt. Me and my mom watch it every year.
MLB.com: Comedy division: "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" or "A Christmas Story"?
Smith: Christmas Story. That's a Smith family tradition -- the 24 hours of "A Christmas Story" (on TBS). On Christmas Eve, we come back from the church service and my dad makes chili and we all watch "A Christmas Story" until we fall asleep.
MLB.com: Frank Sinatra division: "Jingle Bells" or "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"?
Smith: I'll go "Jingle Bells."
MLB.com: Christmas dinner: Ham or turkey?
MLB.com: Dessert: Cookies or fruitcake?
Smith: Cookies. (laughing)
MLB.com: Dessert Part II: Candy canes or sugarplums?
Smith: How about, "neither."
MLB.com: Snow or sunshine?
Smith: Sunshine! I don't think I've ever had a snowy Christmas.
MLB.com: Secret Santa division: Carlton or Geoffrey? (Couldn't help it.)
MLB.com: What is your wish for 2014?
Smith: Just a new team, getting to know a new group of guys and going out there and winning ballgames. You can't beat winning, so I'm excited for 2014 and getting this thing started.