The Rays are in agreement with free-agent outfielder Jake Smolinski on a minor league contract, tweets Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com. The Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon client will presumably be in Major League camp with Tampa Bay come Spring Training.
Smolinski was outrighted by the Athletics and became a minor league free agent earlier this offseason. He’d have been eligible for a modest raise over last season’s $775K base salary on the heels of a pair of seasons in which he saw limited action. Smolinski’s 2018 campaign was cut short by a blood clot in his left calf, and in his 41 plate appearances he hit just .128/171/.205. The former second-round pick did post a terrific .278/.372/.548 slash in Triple-A this season and is a career .227/.287/.357 hitter in the Majors. The right-handed-hitting Smolinski has experience at all three outfield spots and has handled lefties well throughout his big league tenure, batting .282/.351/.473 through 276 trips to the plate.
Tampa Bay isn’t lacking for outfield depth with Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith and Austin Meadows all on the 40-man roster, to say nothing of utility option like Brandon Lowe and Daniel Robertson. But Smolinski will vie for a bench role that’d allow the organization to take advantage of that success he’s enjoyed against lefties. If he doesn’t make the roster, he’ll likely head to Durham as an upper-level depth option to be called upon in the event of an injury.