The Milwaukee Brewers have signed first baseman Justin Smoak. The deal is for one year and $5 million.
Smoak, 33, has hit 85 home runs with a .350 OBP over his past three seasons in Toronto, including a career-high 38 homers in 2017. That said, hit just .208/.342/.406 (OPS+ 101) last season despite a league-average strikeout rate that was quite a bit better than his career mark. It was a subpar year for him in production, but there’s good reason to believe that his low BABIP — only .223 compared to a career BABIP of .266 — was flukey and that he stands a good chance to bounce back to the level of performance he showed in 2017-18, when hit a combined .256/.353/.495 (OPS+ 127).
For Milwaukee, this fills the hole at first base created by the club’s decision to not pick up Eric Thames‘ option. If they had picked up Thames’ option, it would’ve cost the Brewers $7.5 million.
MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.
Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.
Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.
The entire camp was placed in quarantine.
“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”
Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.
The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.
“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”