Justin Smoak’s breakout 2017 season ended with a whimper, as the Blue Jays first baseman dealt with fatigue and a then-undisclosed injury. Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reports that Smoak dealt with patella tendinitis in one of his knees during the season’s final two months, during which he produced just a .211/.311/.406 batting line. However, the former top prospect made some adjustments to his offseason workout routine to try and avoid similar struggles in 2018. “I feel like I’ve done some things this offseason to make that better, and I just have to keep doing the things that I was doing to keep it strong and try to alleviate that pain.” The 31-year-old will try to build on a surprisingly dominant 2017 season during which he earned his first All-Star appearance and hit a career-high 38 homers. Though Smoak had been near replacement level for his entire career, he was worth 3.4 fWAR last year; whether that production is sustainable will be an interesting storyline to watch this season.
More news from up north…
- Though right-hander Joe Biagini endured his fair share of struggles last season, Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker has faith in him (h/t Ben Nicholson-Smith of sportsnet.ca). “I still envision him as a quality major-league starter,” says Walker. A Rule 5 Draft pick of the Jays back in 2015, Biagini has just two full seasons and 18 MLB starts under his belt. Though his 5.34 ERA last season wouldn’t seem to offer much promise on the surface, it doesn’t tell the entire story, either. Biagini showed flashes of potential last season by going at least seven innings on four separate occasions, including a September start during which he struck out ten Orioles hitters and posted an 87.5% ground ball rate. If he can harness some of that ability, he may yet become a valuable member of Toronto’s rotation.
- In retrospect, right-hander Marco Estrada feels good about his decision to sign a one-year deal with the Blue Jays (via Nicholson-Smith). “I’m blessed and happy that I was able to take care of that stuff early so I had none of those headaches and none of the stress about where I was going to end up,” Estrada said earlier this week. “It was really nice to enjoy this off-season.” Outfielder Curtis Granderson, who is one of two elected MLBPA Player Representatives, also offered his views on the offseason to this point. “Everything is still moving up. Revenue is at an all-time high. Minimum salaries are at an all-time high,” he said. “As long as everything continues to move in the right direction, in the same direction, I think it’s going to be a good thing.”