Minnesota Twins Trade Profile: 1B/DH Justin Smoak Toronto Blue Jays
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins will be taking a look at all avenues to improve the team for 2019 and a trade for Justin Smoak could provide help in the lineup.
The Minnesota Twins have players who seemingly will slot into many of the starting positions around the diamond as we look forward to 2019. Even with players who can somewhat obviously slot into roles on the team, after a 78-84 season almost every aspect of the on-field product will be analyzed with a potential to improve it.
As we assume that the Twins will be sending Joe Mauer off into retirement, first baseman or designated hitter is one of the clear openings on next season’s starting roster. That is what made a post recently on MLB Trade Rumors concerning Toronto Blue Jays first baseman and DH Justin Smoak intriguing from a Twins perspective.
The former first round pick of the Texas Rangers was once a player that just kinda made you go “meh” whenever you saw his name pop up. Always a guy who has had tons of power potential, but not enough to really wow you based on his position. That is until these past two seasons in Toronto where Smoak has really found a groove with his power.
2017 was a phenomenal year for Smoak as he hit .270/.355/.529 with a .883 OPS as well as 38 home runs. 2018 was a bit of a step back from those 2017 numbers, but still Smoak’s second best season of his career at the age of 31. This past season he hit .242/.350/.457 with a .808 OPS and 25 home runs. The question moving forward is what does Smoak have left to offer a major league club?
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With a year of team control left on Smoak’s current deal at only $8 million the Blue Jays could certainly be in a place to want and find Smoak a new home for 2019 especially after Toronto already trade away several veterans this past season. As the Twins have a depth of quality prospects they may have the resources to acquire Smoak to help the team fill their needs going into 2019 at first base and designated hitter.
If Mauer does retire, the Twins will then first and foremost be looking the way of Tyler Austin. Even though the power he flashed this season had its moments of excitement. There are still question marks which surround his ability to field first base and to be a full-time starter. The good is his power with a combined 17 home runs over 69 games in the majors between Minnesota and New York. The question mark is if his .236/.294/.488 slash line is enough for a starter on a contending team.
After Austin we are looking towards guys like Robbie Grossman (if he isn’t non-tendered), a potential positional move for a struggling Miguel Sano, and the possibilities of bringing up Brent Rooker. That puts the Twins in a position where acquiring a bat for that 1B/DH role could be very beneficial. So depending on the price tag and how the front office evaluates some of the guys currently on the roster, Smoak very well could help the Twins contend in 2019.