After a short stint with the SF Giants this season, Justin Smoak will be wearing a Giants jersey in another league after signing with the Yomiuri Giants.
According to a report by ESPN’s Jeff Passan, veteran first baseman Justin Smoak is close to finalizing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants. The deal will reportedly pay him between $6-$7 million. Smoak last played professionally with the SF Giants near the end of the 2020 MLB season.
The 11th overall pick in the 2008 MLB draft, Smoak reached the big-leagues quickly but struggled to reach his potential. He’s always been an above-average defender at first base with plus power potential and strong bat-to-ball skills. However, he struggled to put it all together.
In 2017, with the Toronto Blue Jays, Smoak reworked his swing to hit more flyballs and clobbered 38 homers alongside a career-best .270/.355/.529 triple-slash. He reached his only career All-Star game that year. Since his peak campaign, Smoak maintained some of those gains, averaging 24 home runs and a .226/.346/.434 line in the following two seasons, but was clearly declining.
This year, after signing a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, Smoak maintained his power gains (ISO of .195) but saw his strikeout rate soar (31.8%) and walk-rate drop to the lowest level of his career (7.9%). His expected batting average (.201) and slugging (.351) didn’t suggest his .186/.262/.381 triple-slash was a symptom of bad luck, but just poor performance. Still, the Giants gave him an opportunity after he was released. However, after going 0-for-6, he was released by San Francisco.
The Japanese Central League is considered the best professional league outside of the United States. Justin Smoak will be joining the reigning champion Yomiuri Giants. While he could not be a major contributor for the SF Giants, he will hope to turn his career around in a different Giants uniform.