Blue Jays Claim Justin Smoak

Adam Lind (no, I don't have any photos of Justin Smoak)
Adam Lind (no, I don’t have any photos of Justin Smoak)


While I’m writing up a storm, I might as well get into the news about the Blue Jays picking up Justin Smoak.


The Blue Jays claimed Justin Smoak off waivers from the Seattle Mariners. It appears that the Mariners didn’t want to pick up the 6-foot-4 switch-hitter’s $3.6 million option. For the Blue Jays, it appears that the Jays are hedging their bets and bringing in another player who could play first base if Adam Lind (and his $7.5 million option) are traded.


Dave Cameron of Fangraphs was highly critical of the move, writing that “if he could run like [Peter] Bourjos or even play the outfield in a reasonable manner, he’d have some value, but as a plodding first baseman, a 94 wRC+ is basically replacement level.” So not the biggest vote of confidence. He does, however, give the Blue Jays some credit “with these reclamation projects” and he’s probably thinking of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (although not Juan Francisco) but doesn’t hold out much hope that Smoak will be the answer in Toronto.


Looking at Smoak’s big league track record, he’s a lifetime .224/.309/.380 hitter with 74 career home runs in 566 games. His lefty/righty splits are fairly even, hitting .224/.318/.391 from the right side and hitting .223/.291/.359 from the left side. 55 of his 74 career home runs come from the right side of the plate leading me to the conclusion that, while his splits aren’t as uneven as Adam Lind’s, Smoak is far more useful against left-handed pitchers than he is against righties.


Smoak had some big numbers in Triple-A Tacoma last year, hitting .337/.422/.502 in the minors (with seven home runs) but only .202/.275/.339 in 80 games in the majors.


Unless the Blue Jays believe that Smoak, who will be 28 next season, has another gear left, I’d much rather have a $7.5 million, righty-smashing Adam Lind than a $3.6 million Quad-A Justin Smoak.


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