The San Francisco Giants may be the last stop for Justin Smoak.
According to ESPN, first baseman Justin Smoak has signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants on September 9 and was assigned to their alternate site in San Jose. Smoak was released by the Milwaukee on September 8 after playing in 33 games and hitting .186, with five home runs and 15 RBIs for the Brewers.
Milwaukee designated Smoak for assignment after claiming Daniel Vogelbach off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays on September 3. Smoak began the season with the Seattle Mariners.
Little was expected of the Giants in 2020, with a virtually unknown roster and the face of the franchise catcher Buster Posey opting out of the season over coronavirus concerns. But San Francisco has been one of baseball’s surprise teams in the shortened season. As of September 9, the Giants would make the extended playoffs. San Francisco holds the eighth and final spot in the National League playoff picture.
Brandon Belt has been the regular Giants’ first baseman, hitting .337 with seven home runs and 21 RBIs. Belt hits lefthanded and Smoak is a switch hitter.
Smoak was the first found draft choice (11th overall) of the Texas Rangers in the 2008 amateur draft. As a junior at the University of South Carolina that year, Smoak hit .383 with 23 home runs and earned All-SEC honors at first base.
As the Rangers were making a run for the World Series, the team traded Smoak with second baseman Matt Lawson and pitchers Blake Beavan and Josh Lueke to the Mariners for pitchers Cliff Lee and Mark Lowe on July 9, 2010. Lee was 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA for the Rangers in the 2010 World Series against the Giants.
Smoak’s career stats in 1,283 games with the Rangers, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Brewers are a .229 batting average, 196 home runs, 570 RBIs, and an OPS of .741. In 11 seasons, Smoak never played to the potential of a first-round draft pick that received a $3.5 million signing bonus in 2008 with the Rangers.
Smoak made the American League All-Star game with the Blue Jays in 2017 when he hit .270 with 38 homers. But since, Smoak has never approached those numbers since.
When the smoke clears, at 33, this could be the end of the line for Justin Smoak, a player once thought to be a “can’t miss” prospect.