By Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
Justin Smoak is closing in on easily attainable goals to increase his salary for 2019.
That's assuming the Blue Jays exercise his contract option for next season.
The big first baseman is slated to earn $6-million in 2019 but the Jays have yet to exercise the option. Not sure what they are waiting on.
Smoak signed a team-friendly two-year contract plus an option back in the summer of 2016, meaning he would earn $4.125-million in each of the 2017-2018 seasons. Smoak and his agent Drew Bledsoe got creative with Jays general manager Ross Atkins and team president Mark Shapiro by suggesting an incentive-earned package to increase future earnings.
Atkins and Shapiro agreed. So here's the deal: Smoak's option for 2019 will become $7-million very soon and then $8-million some time later in the season.
The contract stipulates that if Smoak collects 950 combined plate appearances in 2017-18, he will get $7-million next season. Entering Sunday's finale of a three-game series against the Nationals, Smoak was up to 909 PA, including a career-high 637 collected in 2017.
Then when Smoak reaches a combined 1,100 PA, his option would increase to $8-million. Considering that when these contract option incentives were inserted in his contract, he was only a part-time player. Now, he's a full-time player.
Smoak has been a solid part of the Blue Jays plans for four seasons, although his batting average has slipped recently to under .230. But his tremendous defence makes him very valuable. At 6-foot-4, he can handle a lot of high throws and he's superb at digging balls out of the dirt.