The White Sox have signed outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. to a minor league contract, reports Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America. They’ll be the fourth Major League organization for Smith, who’s repped by Wasserman.
The son of former big league outfielder and 1995 World Series champion Dwight Smith, the younger Smith was the No. 53 overall draft choice by Toronto back in 2011. He ranked between 14th and 28th among Jays farmhands each season from 2012-16, per Baseball America, and Smith hit the ground running in his first few big league looks. In a small sample of 104 plate appearances from 2017-18, he batted .294/.365/.467 and earned his way into the team’s outfield mix. That showing helped prompt the Orioles to trade for Smith in a deal that sent international bonus allotments back to Toronto.
In 2019, Smith’s first season with the O’s, he saw a career-high 392 plate appearances over the course of 101 games. He got out to another hot start in Baltimore, beginning the year on an eight-game hitting streak and carrying a hearty .286/.333/.510 batting line with eight home runs, nine doubles and four stolen bases through his first 159 trips to the plate. Smith looked to be a pretty sound low-cost pickup at the time, but his bat wilted as the season wore on. From May 15 through season’s end, he hit just .210/.273/.343 through 233 plate appearances, and his .222/.306/.365 slash in 72 plate appearances in 2020 wasn’t much better.
Smith was designated for assignment by Baltimore in Aug. 2020 and went unclaimed on waivers. He was outrighted to the team’s alternate site in the pandemic-shortened season and became a minor league free agent at season’s end. Smith inked a minor league deal with Cincinnati last winter, but he scuffled with a .221/.327/.284 slash in 147 plate appearances with their Triple-A affiliate before being released.
Now 29 years old, Smith has had some big league success but has yet to find much in the way of consistency. He’s a lifetime .248/.310/.316 hitter in 568 big league plate appearances and a .266/.351/.392 hitter in 1006 Triple-A plate appearances. It’s unlikely that the Sox view him as a primary candidate to factor into their right field mix this coming season, but he’ll be a depth option who’ll join a corner-outfield mix already featuring Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn, Adam Engel, Gavin Sheets and out-of-options prospect Micker Adolfo. The South Siders are expected to pursue further corner options once the league lifts the current transaction freeze, which would push Smith further down the depth chart.