During Spring Training, it looks as if Seattle Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak may be playing for an opportunity to start at first base or designated hitter … for another team. The Mariners made several moves on the offensive side of the ball and may have moved Smoak right out of an everyday position in doing so. Smoak, coming into his prime seasons at age 27, had his third consecutive subpar season for the Mariners in 2014.
The Mariners, who have fielded a young team the last few seasons, decided that they wanted to revamp their offense this offseason. They went out and signed veteran second baseman Robinson Cano away from the New York Yankees, as well as former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman/outfielder Cory Hart. Seattle also traded for Miami Marlins first baseman/outfielder Logan Morrison. Neither Hart or Morrison are Gold Glove outfielders, so there may be a log jam at first base and DH.
Smoak, who came over in a trade with the Texas Rangers in 2010 as a 23-year-old prospect, hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. In three seasons as a Mariners player, Smoak has averaged 18 home runs and a paltry .229 batting average. Last season was Smoak’s best offensive season when he hit .234 with 20 home runs in 454 at-bats.
He is going to have to put up big numbers this spring to earn a spot in the everyday lineup. But even with a big spring, Smoak may still be out of a job if Morrison or Hart, who are both coming off of knee injuries, cannot play the outfield. Smoak, who is only 27-years old, still may be able to right the ship and be the offensive force that he once was expected to be, but it may be for a team other than the Mariners.