When the Blue Jays claimed first baseman Justin Smoak off waivers from the Mariners in late October they clearly had something unconventional in mind, because there was little chance of them wanting to exercise his $3.65 million option for 2015.
Sure enough, the Blue Jays declined the option in favor of a $150,000 buyout and then non-tendered Smoak … and today he re-signed with Toronto on a one-year, $1 million contract.
Smoak was once a top prospect, but he’s hit just .224 with a .689 OPS in 566 games as a big leaguer, including .202 with a .614 OPS this past season. He does have 20-homer power and good plate discipline, so for a million bucks the Blue Jays will try to get some decent production out of the 28-year-old.
Torii Hunter just had a very eventful press conference announcing his return to the Twins on a one-year, $10.5 million contract.
When Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press asked Hunter about his previous, well-documented statements against gay marriage and support of political candidates who share his viewpoint, he called Berardino a “prick” and said he was done talking about the topic.
From a reporter on the scene:
But wait, there’s more. In speaking to the Minnesota media the former Gold Glove-winning center fielder was also asked about his increasingly poor defensive numbers in right field, to which Hunter replied:
Whoever believes in that sabermetrics stuff never played the game.
There’s plenty of reason to believe signing Hunter is a mistake for the Twins on the field given his current level of ability at age 39, but meanwhile he’s not having the greatest start off the field.
Colby Lewis was unable to work out a deal with the Rangers before hitting the open market as a free agent despite wanting to remain in Texas, but now the two sides are apparently close to an agreement.
“I think we’ll try to finalize it this week, that’s my goal,” general manager Jon Daniels told Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas. “I expect he’ll be back.”
After missing all of 2013 with multiple injuries Lewis returned to make 29 starts and throw 170 innings, but he wasn’t much good with a 5.18 ERA and .304 opponents’ batting average.
Lewis, who turned 35 years old in August, has spent seven of his nine MLB seasons with the Rangers.
After failing to re-sign Nelson Cruz the Orioles are “showing strong interest” in free agent Michael Morse, according to Bob Nightingale of USA Today.
Morse has been a left fielder and first baseman for most of his career, but his defensive numbers are always terrible and the Orioles may view him as more of a designated hitter (rather than as a potential Nick Markakis replacement in the outfield).
Offensively he’s similar to Cruz in that he brings good power and poor par plate discipline to the table from the right side of the plate, although obviously replacing 40 homers is an impossible task.
Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com talked to a source who believes free agent Jon Lester will likely sign by the end of this week and unless some mystery team emerges his choice will be the Red Sox, Cubs, or Giants.
He’s met recently with all three teams and McAdam reports that he’s got a $138 million offer from the Cubs and a $130 million offer from the Red Sox. No one is sure how much the Giants have offered, but presumably it’s in the same range.