Veteran first baseman Justin Smoak, who’d signed with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball over the winter, has returned to the United States to be with his family, the Japan Times recently reported. The 34-year-old switch-hitter was productive in his limited run for the second-place Giants, slashing .272/.336/.482 with seven homers and three doubles in 34 games, but Giants representative Atsuhiro Otsuka told the Times that Smoak’s “love of family outweighed everything else.” As the Times’ Jason Coskrey writes in a second column, the Giants attempted to find ways to reunite the family in Japan, but current travel restrictions there made that impossible.
Smoak’s wife, Kristin, shared a heartwarming video of him returning home to surprise his daughters (Twitter link), calling it a “terribly tough decision” and noting the “amazing” support and understanding the Giants provided throughout the situation. Kristin Smoak later tweeted that the family has been “blown away by the genuine kindness and understanding we have received” from NPB fans.
A few more notes out of Japan and South Korea…
- The Orix Buffaloes announced this week that they’ve signed right-hander Glenn Sparkman to a contract for the remainder of the season (Yahoo Japan link). He’ll take the roster spot of righty Brandon Dickson, who recently returned to the U.S. to sign a minor league deal with the Cardinals. Sparkman was on a minor league deal with the Twins earlier this year but was released in mid-May. He’s spent parts of four straight seasons in the Majors (2017-20), including a 2019 campaign in which he racked up 136 1/3 innings for the Royals. Sparkman has just a 5.99 ERA in 180 1/3 MLB frames, but he carries a career 2.88 ERA in 378 2/3 minor league innings — including a 3.51 mark in parts of four Triple-A seasons.
- The Kiwoom Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization announced that they’ve placed designated hitter/catcher/first baseman David Freitas on waivers (link via Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency). They’re now in the mix for a new bat to add to the lineup. Freitas, 32, was the Heroes’ primary designated hitter but slashed a fairly tepid .259/.297/.374 with two homers and 10 doubles in 148 plate appearances. The former Braves, Mariners and Brewers catcher posted a ridiculous .381/.461/.561 line in 382 Triple-A plate appearances back in 2019 and has a generally strong track record at that level, but he’s yet to produce much in the game’s top leagues in North America or South Korea.
Very nice to hear that a ballclub cared about the social situation of a ballplayer, other than handing him money and letting him figure it out. Kudos to the Yomiuri Giants.
Yes. Positive decision.
That’s why winning ball clubs only should give huge contracts to guys like Derek Jeter? That’s the kinda guy who only cared about winning. You aren’t a winner if you have a wife and kids. That means you have distractions and now they get to miss games for the birth of their kids during the season? If they have kids it should only be from November to March. That’s really how you can tell you shouldn’t ever sign a ball player to long term money.
Don’t talk, please.
You must be a total delight to speak to in real life
Jeter never pumped out any kids? True bachelor.
Right, because missing a few games out of 162 to be with family in a special moment is indefensible.
But they shouldn’t stop there. Deaths, illnesses, and injuries shouldn’t be excusable distractions, either.
Is this a serious response?
@iverbure It sounds like having kids isn’t for you but you’re sounding really stupid and embarrassing yourself here.
Nice to see a feel good story. Thanks !
I’d like to see the Rockies sign him to replace Matt Adams. Smoak is limited, but he is better than Adams.
Got to love Smoak caring about his family. We need more family men like this. Beautiful job by the Yomiuri Giants as well to discuss solutions to make that happen for him.
Also helps when you have millions or dollars to retire at 30 lol
$30 million or so to be exact.
Explain how exactly does Smoak have “$30M or so”? That’s the opposite of “exact” when it doesn’t even take taxes and agent fees out of it. Stop doing this dishonest thing of looking up “career earnings” online when those numbers are straight up wrong. I make under 6 figures a year and about half of it goes to taxes and life expenses, so do all these players.
I’d wager Smoak has something like $5M to his name, or else he wouldn’t have gone overseas to begin with. But bottom line is please stop doing this, it is dishonest and incorrect from the jumpoff. Heaven help a player gets a divorce on top of everything, does baseball-reference show that? NOPE.
Only $5m to his name? How does he feed his family?
You can’t ask someone to stop being disingenuous and then do it yourself in the same paragraph. No one in the US pays anywhere near 50% of their income in taxes. That’s just a gross misrepresentation.
Ha sorry… if you are indeed in the UK then that’s a different story.
Yeah seriously stop acting like these millionaires have money! Why don’t you try playing the same game everyday you loved as a kid and never have to work a normal job. Don’t you understand the stress of having thousands of fans cheer or boo you when you swing and miss at a baseball, or even worse have to hit a home run. Then after all that turn around and pay taxes like a freaking citizen. Yes please stop, smoak probably actually only took home half of the 30 million he made. You guys don’t count toilet paper, maids and nannies. You think cruises to the Caribbean are free? You ever eat at a fancy steak house, with kids!! My gosh wake up people and donate to smoaks go fund me!!
you have never been through jersey then .. im surprised there is not a tax on air here lol. I’m sure they are looking for a way to tax it or “monetize it.” though. We have the highest taxes for majority of taxes that are tracked except for clothes which has no tax last i heard.
Unless you are just referring specifically to tax on salary which is majority of your taxes no doubt, but there are taxes on property, gas, food, entertainment, sewage. garbage, local, county etc etc
So hard to leave your homestate though.when damn near everything is within an hours drive.
Great job all the way around. No matter how much they paid me, my family comes first.
Peart of the game
Freitas should be easily replacable, even Ryon Healy is doing better (should be released too as he has a sub .700 ops as well).
The kind of decisions that making $40 mill before your 40 allows you to make. Good for him.
and half of that goes to taxes, agent fees, life expenses – he’s not as rich as you make him out to be. Stop perpetrating this dishonesty by not understanding the numbers baseball-reference show for salary are all MASSIVELY overstated.
The B-Ref numbers are not “MASSIVELY overstated.” They are his salaries, period. Yes, he has agent fees, housing, food, etc.
The point being made is that his baseball salaries add up to more than most people will make in a lifetime, and if he has handled his money with anything other than complete incompetence, he should be able to do pretty much whatever he chooses with his time going forward without worrying about his finances.
Explain how Smoak can’t help the Brewers, Indians and Mariners like, today???
Probably could, but it doesn’t sound like he’s too eager to get back into traveling with a ballclub a whole lot, United States or not. He seemed to have really missed his family and wants to spend more time with them right now.
Ducky Buckin Fent
& with career earnings in excess of $30MM, he is free to spend as much time with them as he wants.
He probably has under $5M in the bank if he’s even going overseas in the first place. You really need to stop being so dishonest here by framing the massively overstated salaries shown on baseball-reference that dont include taxes or agent fees or divorce settlements and general living expenses and home costs as if he currently has “in excess of $30MM” in his bank account. I can assure you he does not. Stop believing in a lie.
Ducky Buckin Fent
Your understanding of personal economics is…interesting. To say the least.
He was paid over 30 million dollars, bro.
This is before: interest, investments, endorsements, etc.
If indeed “he probably has under $5M in the bank” he either has a bunch tied up in stocks, real estate, money markets, metals, etc. Which is smart!
Or: he had an abysmal money guy which I highly doubt.
Most people who make decent money don’t just cash their checks & hide it in a cave or whatever.
& for the record, I never posted he has in excess of $30MM in the bank. Nor intimidated as such. I’d be fine wagering that his net worth exceeds 20 mil. But then, I deal with finances in an adult fashion.
Hope this helps, @ A’sFaninUK.
Though I fear it will not.
Damn, who pissed in your Cheerios? Agents don’t take as much as many think. Generally, sport agents take between 4%-10% of a contract’s value. So at the very most, his agent agent is taking $3-$5 million from that $30 million, and that’s being extremely generous (which is about 10%-16.5%).
Plus this also isn’t factoring in any endorsement deals Smoak may have made. The cost of living in Japan for one month is only $1.1K USD. This also isn’t taking into account how much he got paid for playing for the Yourmi Giants. Accoridng to FanGraphs, his contract was worth over $6 million (about 665,130,000 yen). After taxes, that’s about $4 million USD (35%, as taxes would be about 23% in Japan for his salary, and we’ll be generous to his agent). He likely made more since FanGraphs said he made $6+ million.
Smoak probably has probably $10-$15 million in his account, rather than less than $5 million. As long as he wasn’t blowing through his money and investing it, saving up, and just spending wisely in general, you’re severly underestimating how much he has.
I also didn’t account for taxes he made in the US and Canada. He made just over $21 million while with the Blue Jays and if you use Ontario’s tax rate plus let’s estimate 8% for his agent, he made just over $16.5 million. He made a total of $1.6 million while with Milwaukee. Smoak also made $3.75 million while in Seattle.
Granted, while I am just roughly estimating and I’m not any sort of financial advisor, I think it’s safe to say that even if we are being generous to the taxes and his agent, Smoak made around $20 million throughout his career. Like Ducky said, the only ways that he could have less than $5 million is if he invested most of his money, or was completley stupid with it.
I have no idea how you arrived to the $5M figure. Smoak could have his entire $30M in earnings and more if he’s a savvy investor or <$0 and be heavily in debt. You're the ONLY one who believes in all the BS and asinine assumptions you spew around here and conflating it for the absolute truth.
He probably has more than what my estimator is (anywhere between $10-$20 million). I doubt he didn’t invest any money into stocks, property, or anything else that can’t rise in price.
@mlb1225 – I agree with your general premise, with the details being trivial.
I am curious about your mention of $1.1k USD per month to live in Japan. Tokyo is a very expensive city.
I will agree that it was a very broad search. I guess the average cost (before rent) is about $1.1K. Though average rent in Tokyo is about $450-$550 USD.
I’ve been to Tokyo a handful of times and rent there is closer to $1.5k for a 1-BR in downtown and they’re really tiny.
Better yet, tell us how a guy batting .176 with 5 dingers and 15 RBIs last year (121 ABs) and is limited in the field could help teams?
I would take last years stats with a grain of salt for most players
Good point, so he’s now 2 years removed from a season he had 22 dingers, 61 RBIs and hit .208. And at an age like 34 producing at that level again is long gone. But what do I know when every MLB GM thought the same thing and let him free to sign in Japan?
.272 with 7 HR’s in 34 games says he was having a good season so far
That’s not MLB pitching.
Its not exactly AAA either
His 14 RBIs against AAAA pitching aren’t that impressive either.
Mariner’s current First baseman Bauers is hitting far better than Smoak would.
I didn’t have a favorite team in the NPB before, but I do now. Kudos all around to Smoak and the Giants.
Perhaps a return to the Blue Jays? We know they are looking for a lefty hitting First Baseman.
Nice to see the team willing to help accommodate Smoak in returning to the States to be with his family. Not sure there are too many pro sports teams here that would be willing to do the same
The Tigers, under Avila, have taken it even further. Not only did the Great Al sign the likes of Jordon Zimmerman, Mike Pelfrey, Mark Lowe, Mike Aviles, Matt Moore, Tyson Ross, Josh Harrison, CJ Cron, Ivan Novoa, Julio Tehran and Erasamo Ramirez to contracts, he let them spend most of the summer with their families while still paying them! Hard to be more considerate than that.
You can take the kid out of Goose Creek but you can’t take Goose Creek out of the kid.
Kids crying out loud and run towards Daddy in the military uniform who just got back from his duty in the Middle East, the video of it? That’s always touching. That of the Smoak’s? Seeing him in his normal T-shirt, his daughter not quite rushing to him or anything, that’s nothing.
No one cares, this is the worst thing Ive ever read here. Make sense please. Yanks fans average IQ is 60 and you prove it.
Hey Troll! I think I hear your mommy calling you from under the bridge. She’s got your 30 million in a bag. Is that dishonest? Sorry, your 30 cents in a bag. Run along now.
Sorry that a child’s response to an extremely uncommon situation didn’t live up to your expectations from social media. The rest of us are happy for the Smoak family and appreciate the accommodation from the Yomiuri Giants and NPB.
It’s really sad that people even have to make a comment about that and make it an issue.
getting paid millions but wah my family
A shame you never had one.