Hours after making Justin Smoak a free agent, the Toronto Blue Jays re-signed the first baseman to a one-year, $1 million contract Wednesday.
The Blue Jays non-tendered Smoak Tuesday after claiming him on waivers in October. He had a projected salary of $3 million, so non-tendering him and agreeing to a one-year deal creates additional payroll flexibility for Toronto. Meanwhile, Smoak gets the chance to play first in a hitter-friendly park for a team with designs on contending.
“He really wanted to get it worked out with Toronto because of the opportunity to be an everyday first baseman,” agent Dustin Bledsoe told Sportsnet. “He left money on the table to do the deal because he felt it’s a great chance to resurrect his career.”
Though Smoak signed a one-year deal, the Blue Jays can retain his rights through 2016 by offering him salary arbitration next off-season.
Smoak hit 20 home runs for the Seattle Mariners in 2013 but his numbers dropped off this past season, when he batted .202/.275/.339 with seven home runs in 276 plate appearances. The 27-year-old switch-hitter also spent 56 games at triple-A, where he batted .337/.422/.502 in 249 plate appearances.
Smoak, the 11th overall selection of the Texas Rangers in the 2008 draft, hit at least 15 home runs each year from 2011-13. He has had more success batting from the left side, as his career line of .224/.318/.391 against right-handed pitching shows. However, he has yet to live up to his billing as a top prospect, as his lifetime OPS of .689 shows (94 OPS+).
The Blue Jays also traded for Smoak’s former teammate, Michael Saunders.