The Blue Jays have acquired outfielder Mallex Smith from the Reds, per Baseball America’s Chris Hilburn-Trenkle. Presumably, as is the case with most post-deadline swaps, the Jays simply sent cash back to Cincinnati in return.
Smith was eligible to be traded by virtue of the fact that he’s playing the 2021 season on a minor league deal and had not been summoned to the Majors or previously outrighted by another club this season. The 28-year-old opened the season on a minor league deal with the Mets but didn’t appear in a game for them. He suffered a broken foot early in his tenure with the organization and was cut loose in mid-June. He signed with Cincinnati quickly thereafter and was soon ready to suit up for the Reds’ top affiliate in Louisville.
It hasn’t been an especially productive season so far for Smith in Triple-A, as he’s posted just a .231/.296/.292 batting line in 22 games and 71 plate appearances since healing up enough to take the field. He’s swiped four bases in six tries with Louisville, and his ability to continue piling up those steals is his primary asset.
From 2017-19, Smith batted .262/.332/.367 in 356 games with the Rays and Mariners, connecting on 10 home runs, 54 doubles, 23 triples and stealing 102 bags in 128 attempts (79.7 percent). He posted back-to-back 40-steal seasons in 2018-19 — including a ’19 season in which his 46 stolen bases led all of Major League Baseball.
Smith isn’t likely to be an immediate option for the Jays in the outfield. Toronto has Lourdes Gurriel Jr., George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Corey Dickerson and Randal Grichuk all on the Major League roster at the moment, so outfield isn’t exactly a position of need. That said, rosters will expand to 28 players in September, and Smith will not only provide some cover in the event of injuries but also a potential pinch-running and defensive specialist if the Jays see fit to use one of those extra roster spots in that manner.