Blue Jays sign Justin Smoak to one-year deal

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with first baseman on Wednesday night by signing the slugging first baseman to a one-year deal worth $3.9 million.

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Smoak was rewarded for his bounceback 2015 season that included 18 home runs in 296 at-bats and Gold Glove-caliber defense. He also hit .226 with a .299 on-base percentage and a .768 OPS in 132 games.

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The final numbers Toronto and Smoak settled on were far greater than the projected arbitration amount by MLBTradeRumors. Smoak earned $1 million this year and was projected to make $2 million in 2016, but that also overlooked the $2.638 million he secured in 2014, which could help explain the final tally.

Smoak is expected to once again compete for playing time at first base with . The two combined to hit 33 home runs with 113 RBIs for the Blue Jays in 2015 and each took turns as the regular starter at various points.

The 28-year-old Smoak typically received most of his playing time against right-handed pitchers and when Colabello started, it was Smoak who came off the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement. More of the same can be expected next season, and at a combined salary of $4.5 million, it has the potential to be a bargain.

Smoak was one of 10 Toronto players eligible for salary arbitration this offseason. The Blue Jays had until Wednesday night at 11:59 p.m. ET to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Any player who does not receive a tender offer would become a free agent instead of facing possible arbitration.

The Blue Jays non-tendered Smoak last year but then opted to quickly re-sign him on a one-year deal for $1 million. He would have wholesale baseball jerseys earned far more in arbitration but Toronto opted for a different route this year and locked Smoak up early to a contract.

Smoak is a career .224 hitter with a .308 on-base percentage and a .699 OPS. He has 92 home runs and 293 RBIs in parts of six seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners and Rangers.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. Share This Email Print + Hide Comments

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