David Stearns is quickly plugging the holes left by departing free agents.
The latest: Jon Heyman says the Brewers are nearing a deal with free agent first baseman Justin Smoak, most recently of the Toronto Blue Jays.
Brewers are close to a deal with a Justin Smoak, solving their 1B issue— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 19, 2019
Smoak struggled in the batting average department last year, hitting just .208 in 500 plate appearances, but still managed a .342 OBP thanks to a very good eye at the plate. That .208 batting average comes with the giant asterisk of a ridiculously low .223 BABIP, more than 40 points lower than his career average. He also hit 22 home runs for the Jays, making it three straight years of at least 20 home runs.
Smoak was one of the most highly regarded hitting prospects in baseball 10 years ago, and while he’s failed to live up to that hype, he’s still managed to be a productive big leaguer, with a career line of .231/.324/.420. His best season wasn’t too long ago, as he hit .270/.355/.529 with 38 home runs for Toronto in 2017.
He’s a switch hitter who’s better splits come from the left-handed side of the plate, which should play well at Miller Park.
This would be the latest in a binge of signings for Stearns lately as he tries to rebuild his roster and build up depth, joining Josh Lindblom, Brett Anderson, Avisail Garcia and Eric Sogard in the past couple weeks.
UPDATE (9:27 a.m.):
Jeff Passan says it will be a one-year deal worth $4 million, with a $5.5 million team option for 2021 that the Brewers can get out of with a $1 million buyout.
Justin Smoak’s contract with Milwaukee includes a club option for $5.5 million in 2021. He’ll be paid $4 million this year, and the option has a $1 million buyout, guaranteeing him at least $5 million on the deal. @JonHeyman and @Ken_Rosenthal were on it.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 19, 2019
Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs