Justin Smoak has been claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays from the Seattle Mariners. The 27-year old 1B was selected 11th Overall by the Texas Rangers in 2008, and was ranked as the #13 prospect in the league by Baseball America in 2009. Smoak has struggled to hit for average at the Major League level recently, however, which has limited the impact of his power bat.
Smoak joined the Seattle Mariners in 2010 as part of the Cliff Lee deal, but has still yet to ascend much beyond his career slash line of .224 / .309 / .380. His 2014 season saw him play in just 80 MLB games, batting .202 with 7 HR’s and 30 RBI’s. Justin Smoak did have a much stronger season in 2013, with 20 HR’s, and is considered to be a very strong defensive first baseman.
A look at Justin Smoak’s AAA numbers from 2014 still inspire hope, though. In 56 games with Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League, Smoak hit .337 / .422 / .502 with 40 RBI’s. As a switch-hitter, his career numbers show that he slightly favours right-handed pitching, but his splits are fairly close.
This obviously brings Adam Lind‘s status with the Toronto Blue Jays into question. The waiver addition of a career .224 hitter does not often spell the end of a lengthy and successful career with a ball club, but this move will raise eyebrows. Adam Lind is reportedly drawing interest on the trade market, and his $7.5M option is over double the $3.65M option attached to Smoak, which the Blue Jays could buy out while holding his arbitration rights. Could this mean that Alex Anthopoulos is planning on making another roster move in the near future?
Whether it be as a starter, bench bat or AAA depth, the addition of Justin Smoak is an interesting move by the Toronto Blue Jays to bring in a player with untapped talent.