The Tampa Bay Rays agreed to a minor league deal with free-agent outfielder Jake Smolinski on Wednesday. Smolinski will likely receive an invitation to big league camp come Spring Training.
Smolinski was outrighted off the 40-man roster last month and elected free agency. The outfielder’s 2018 campaign was cut short by a blood clot in his left calf, hitting just .128 AB/.171 OBP/.205 SLG/.376 OPS across 41 plate appearances, resulting in a mid-May demotion to Triple-A Nashville. Smolinski, however, bounced back and posted a terrific .278 BA/.372 OBP/.548 SLG/.920 OPS line with the Sounds. Be that as it may, he is a career .227 BA/.287 OBP/.357 SLG/.644 OPS hitter in the big leagues. The right-handed hitter has handled southpaws well throughout his Major League career, slashing .282 BA/.351 OBP/.473 SLG/.824 OPS in 276 plate appearances against left-handers, with 11 home runs and 36 RBI.
As it stands, Tampa Bay boasts a 40-man roster that includes outfielders Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier and Austin Meadows, as well as utility options like Brandon Lowe and Daniel Robertson. Smolinski will vie for a bench role in Spring Training, competing against the recently acquired outfielder Guillermo Heredia for a right-handed hitting outfield spot on the 2019 roster. If he doesn’t break camp with the team, it is foreseeable that Smolinski would head to Triple-A Durham as depth in case of injury.
Rays complete Mike Zunino deal
On Thursday, the Rays completed the five-player deal which netted catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia and sent Mallex Smith to Seattle. We wrote about the deal yesterday.
The Rays also acquired minor league southpaw Michael Plassmeyer, yet lost outfielder Jake Fraley, in the trade
Steve Adams (MLB Trade Rumors) wrote about Plassmeyer, saying:
Plassmeyer, 22, was the Mariners’ fourth-round pick just five months ago in the 2018 draft, which aligns with Dipoto’s willingness to deal from his most recent draft classes. He traded catcher David Banuelos, his 2017 fifth-rounder, to the Twins last December and also flipped 2017 fourth-rounder Seth Elledge to the Cardinals this past summer. Plassmeyer, Mizzou product, posted a ridiculous 44-to-4 K/BB ratio through 24 innings in Short-Season Class-A ball this summer.
Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs) broke down the trade, calling it a win for the Rays:
You can see an argument favoring either side of this, but I find the Rays’ to be more convincing.