As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports, the Mariners have avoided arbitration with first baseman Justin Smoak as the two sides agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.6375 with a vesting option for 2015 worth $3.65 million. The option vests if Smoak accrues 525 plate appearances in 2015. If the option doesn’t vest, the Mariners can buy him out for $150,000. Nicholson-Smith adds that Smoak can earn additional money with incentives.
Smoak was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career and can become a free agent after the 2016 season. The 27-year-old bounced back from a tough 2012 season with a solid effort in 2013, hitting 20 home runs and posting a .746 OPS in 521 trips to the plate. He hasn’t lived up to the expectations set when he was Baseball America’s #13 prospect entering the 2010 season, but the Mariners remain hopeful he can continue to make progress.
Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio is reporting that Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto has requested a trade out of Miami. Jon Heyman is characterizing it as Realmuto telling the team that he “wouldn’t mind” a trade.
Either way, Realmuto has no power to force a trade. This isn’t the NBA or something. Still, it’s evidence of just how dreary a prospect remaining in Miami is for Marlins veterans in the wake of trades that sent Giancarlo Stanton to New York, Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis.
Realmuto, who will turn 27 just before the 2018 season, hit .278/.332/.451 with 17 homers, 65 RBI, and eight steals over 141 games this past season. He only has three years of service time and is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. He made just $562K in the 2017 and will get a big raise this year, but he’s still going to be underpaid based on his production. If the Marlins wanted to trade him, they’d get a nice return. Why they would want to trade him, I have no idea.
Expect more of this sort of thing as the Marlins slash payroll and make it clear that their immediate priorities are more about saving money and less about winning baseball games. Which may or may not be a valid goal for the team’s new owners, but is certainly a letdown for baseball players and fans.