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.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.