Well, it looks like somebody on this team is willing to negotiate a contract extension during the season! The Blue Jays have reportedly signed first baseman Justin Smoak to a two-year extension worth $4.125 million per year, with a $6 million option for 2019 or a $250k buyout. Smoak is slashing a line of .234/.333/.402 with nine home runs and 23 RBIs, which is slightly worse than what he did last year in his first season in Toronto.
His new salary will be a slight upgrade on the $3.9 million he’s making this year on a one-year deal. And this also means that the Jays now have, according to Shi Davidi’s Twitter, $88.625 million already committed to just six players, which are Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson, Marco Estrada, J.A. Happ, and now Smoak. So let the Edwin/Jose speculation
Judging by a few minutes of browsing Twitter, this signing isn’t being received all too well by Blue Jays fans. For those who aren’t bothered by it, there’s a general sense of apathy towards the idea of Justin Smoak manning first base for the Jays for a couple more seasons. For those who are bothered by it, there’s a frustration that this signing represents the beginning of the end of the Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion eras in Toronto, as Mark Shapiro has begun his aggressive penny pinching endeavour, they say.
To be honest, this deal doesn’t really tell us much more about the big picture than we already knew. I think we all know at this point that one of Edwin or Jose is going to be gone next season, considering, as I mentioned earlier, the Jays already have just over $88 million committed into a handful of players.
That said, I don’t think Smoak’s extension means much in terms of indicating which direction Shapiro is looking to go in regards to his two key soon-to-be free agents. With Smoak signed, the Jays now have an insurance net in case they can’t afford to keep Edwin around, and if they do ultimately choose to sign him, they have Smoak playing in pretty much the exact same role he’s playing right now for just a little bit more than he’s currently being paid.
Anyways, back to they player they actually signed. Smoak is what he is at this point, even though earlier this season it looked like he was turning a corner and showing signs of becoming the player who was the centrepiece of the Cliff Lee to Texas trade years ago. I think we can safely say now that isn’t happening, and that Smoak will continue to be a slightly above replacement level first baseman who can hit for power, excel adequately in a platoon role, and play a damn good defensive game.
I don’t think there’s much reason to get excited about this deal either way, really. It’s a depth deal that was handed out to a pretty ‘meh’ player who the organization is familiar and comfortable with in a certain role. And in regards to Jose and Edwin? Smoak’s $4.125 million per year deal really doesn’t really change anything, I imagine. Unfortunately we’re going to just have to continue to wait and see, but in the meantime, enjoy them while they’re still here.