The Blue Jays will exercise their $8MM club option on first baseman Justin Smoak, reports MLB.com’s Jon Morosi (Twitter link). The decision to do so over a $250K buyout seemed rather straightforward on the heels of a second consecutive strong season for the switch-hitting slugger.
[Related: Toronto Blue Jays depth chart]
Smoak, 32 in December, broke out with a massive .270/.355/.529 batting line and 38 homers in 2017, and while he didn’t quite replicate that production in 2018, he still enjoyed a strong performance at the plate. In 594 plate appearances, he hit .242/.350/.457 with 25 big flies and 34 doubles in the heart of the Toronto batting order.
Smoak’s initial two-year, $8.5MM extension with the Blue Jays back in the summer of 2016 drew some criticism but ultimately proved to be a feather in the cap of GM Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro. His option value jumped from $6MM to $8MM this season when he reached a combined total of 1100 PAs between the 2017-18 seasons, and he’ll now give the Jays either an affordable middle-of-the-order bat for the 2019 season or an interesting trade chip to market to other clubs this winter or next summer. While slugging first basemen generally haven’t been valued as much in recent seasons as they were even five years ago, Smoak still ranks among the game’s most productive hitters over the past two seasons and is a legitimate bargain at that modest one-year commitment.