Hot stove season!
The Blue Jays have picked up Justin Smoak’s $8 million team option for 2019, Jon Morosi reports.
His initial deal two-year, $8.25 million dollar deal that was signed back during the 2016 season was met with fury, but it’s turned out to be a steal for the team. Between the 2017 and 2018, Smoak slashed .256/.353/.495 with 63 home runs and a 128 wRC+. A big part of this boost in production came from him raising his walk to strikeout rate of .35 in his first two years with the team to a more respectable .55.
The team picking up this option doesn’t necessarily indicate that he’ll be part of the plans going forward. As we remember, the Blue Jays picked up the option of then SP5 JA Happ after the 2014 season and then traded him to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Saunders. And with the probably-immovable Kendrys Morales still under contract for one year, the emergence of Vlad Guerrero Jr, and the defense of Teoscar Hernandez, the team might want to flip Smoak and keep that DH spot open in 2019.
Either way, even if they don’t trade him, Smoak has realistically outperformed his contract thus far and – at just $8 million in 2019 – should continue to.
At the very least, they could always trade him to a divisional rival at the trade deadline next summer, confirming his 2019 World Series MVP win. Congrats, Justin.