Mariners avoid arbitration with Justin Smoak

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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.

Astros talking to Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole about extensions

Justin Verlander
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It’s extension season and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros — who already agreed to an extension with Alex Bregman — are discussing contract extensions with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole.

Funny thing about Verlander, by the way: when he got his current $180 million deal, most people fell into the “oh, there’s an overpay!” column. What’s more, this past winter, when everyone was talking about how bad it is to give guys big long term deals, Verlander’s name was notably absent in the conversation despite the fact that his deal has turned out to be quite good. I suppose that says something about how good the anti-long-term deal folks are at cherrypicking.

That being said, Rosenthal says “it would be an upset” if either Verlander or Cole signed extensions. I can see that. Verlander is locked up this year and has a vesting option for 2020, and a lot can happen in a year or two. Cole is a Scott Boras client and Boras clients tend to hit the market rather than sign extensions. Perhaps their former teammate, Dallas Keuchel‘s, terrible experience on the free agent market this winter will alter that calculus. Hard to say.