When Justin Smoak was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays on October 24, 2014, Alex Anthopoulos was hoping that the former first-round pick could turn around his disappointing career with a change of scenery.
The former GM’s idea proved correct and Justin Smoak would go on to be a productive member of the Blue Jays for the next four seasons.
At present day Justin Smoak is coming off a season in which he was the Blue Jays best hitter with 25 home runs, and he has a lock on being the Blue Jays first baseman for the beginning of the 2019 season.
His future outlook with the Blue Jays is bleak at best, with him being 32 years old on a rebuilding team with an expiring contract. The chance of Justin receiving a contract extension offer from the Blue Jays in 2019 is zero, so there’s a very strong likelihood that Justin Smoak will be moved by the Blue Jays at some point this season.
Last season Smoak had a decent average of .242 and a .350 OBP with 122 hits and 77 RBI’s, and if Justin can replicate those numbers again this season while staying healthy, then the switch hitter from Goose Creek South Carolina should offer good value for interested teams.
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Also with the Toronto Blue Jays having budding young first baseman Rowdy Tellez who looks MLB ready in waiting, you get the notion that the Blue Jays management should put the for sale sign out for Justin Smoak right now if they haven’t already.
It certainly looks like the Blue Jays are trying out Rowdy Tellez for the job at first this spring as he the most at-bats by any Blue Jays player at 42. This spring Tellez is sporting a .286 AVG with 3 HR and a team-leading 8 RBI making his best case to be a fixture on the Blue Jays roster come March 27th.
No slouch himself, Justin Smoak is putting together a great spring training hitting his 3rd home run on Saturday and is sporting a .346AVG.
Last season in the MLB Rowdy Tellez hit: 22 H, 4 HR, 14 RBI, .270 BA .340 OBP in 77 AB. Its impressive numbers even for a small sample and one must think that Blue Jays management would like to explore more of what Rowdy Tellez can offer at the major league level.
Because of all this, it’s my guess that the Jays may try to move Justin Smoak sooner than later if possible. If a contending team were to have an injury at first base early on in the season, you would expect that they would make a call to the Blue Jays for the #10 first baseman on mlb.com’s Top 20 MLB First Baseman.
Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins having to move Justin Smoak this season to clear room for Rowdy Tellez is reminiscent of how Adam Lind was traded to Milwaukee by the Blue Jays in 2014 to make room for Smoak. Comparisons aside, it’s a necessary move today to eliminate the logjam the Blue Jays have at first base and open up opportunities for a talented young prospect.
No matter how or when Justin Smoak is traded this season, his waiver claim will always be viewed as a success by the Toronto Blue Jays, and a testament to how a change of scenery for some players is exactly what the doctor ordered.