Seattle Mariners Trade a Day: Justin Smoak
By Josh Maduell
As many fellow fans recall, our Mariners acquired star pitcher Cliff Lee winter of 2009. The pick-up was short term anyway but due to the team falling fast out of contention, Lee was shipped to Texas in summer 2010 for… Justin Smoak.
Upon first being acquired, the jury was out on Justin Smoak. He had played only 70 games as a Ranger up to being traded. His Ranger batting average was only .209 yet he showed some promise in the “pop” department with eight long balls. Unfortunately, Smoak didn’t pan out for the Mariners.
During his Seattle tenure, his line was a sluggish .226/.308/.384 through 496 games. After the buzz about Smoak providing “pop” for the team, he hit only 66 home runs during his four-and-a-half seasons.
The team set high expectations for him. Smoak hit cleanup for a couple years but failed to hit clutch on a regular basis. Expectations clearly weren’t being met and for us fans, it felt like Cliff Lee left via free agency instead of a trade.
So why should Dipoto consider signing Smoak to a second stint? Maybe a small part of me feels loyalty to a former Mariner. Maybe it’s because he’s a solid defensive first baseman. The real reason is that he has blossomed.
Smoak is clearly one of those players who needed time to get things together with the right team. In this case, that right team is the Blue Jays. The man has clearly turned things around. In 2016, he had a sizzling start only to finish with a .217 batting average, tied for his second worst ever.
But in 2017, Smoak came out of his shell. He saddened our fanbase by posting career, All-Star highs in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average (38, 90, .270) respectively. Smoak had never even finished a season at .240 in his career!
Justin Smoak has made a name for himself in Toronto. Should we be jealous? I wouldn’t blame you. But our general manager needs to keep his eye out for this veteran, southpaw first baseman. Smoak and Ryon Healy could platoon so that Ryon could actually have days off.
Mariners get: 1B Justin Smoak
Blue Jays get: 1B Daniel Vogelbach & RHP Wyatt Mills
The Mariners should consider giving him a second chance because this new Smoak has improved a lot. To put things into perspective, consider the WAR. His career Mariner WAR was 0.9. His Blue Jays WAR IS 6.1! He’s clearly making a difference. The only question is if the Jays want to retain the player they helped find his way.