Smoak's option exercised, Solarte's declined

October 30th, 2018

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays took the expected course of action on Wednesday night by guaranteeing 's contract for another season and starting the process to part ways with infielder .

Toronto officially announced it exercised the $8 million club option on Smoak's contract in advance of Friday's 5 p.m. ET deadline. The Blue Jays declined a $5.5 million option on Solarte and instead triggered a $750,000 buyout.

Solarte is still technically on the Blue Jays' 40-man roster, and remains eligible for arbitration. Toronto likely will continue to explore the trade market for Solarte, and if nothing surfaces in the near future then he would become a candidate to be non-tendered prior to the Nov. 30 deadline.

Smoak seemed like a sure bet to return despite the emergence of prospect in September. The 31-year-old provided excellent value during his two-year, $8.5 million extension, signed midway through 2016, and he now appears set to return for a fifth season in Toronto.

The native of South Carolina enjoyed a breakout season in 2017 with 38 home runs, 90 RBIs and an .883 OPS in 158 games. He wasn't quite able to replicate that level of success this season, but still finished with a respectable .242/.350/.457 slash line and 25 home runs.

The Blue Jays have Tellez waiting in the wings at first base, but he has options remaining and is eligible to start the year at Triple-A Buffalo. Tellez finished 2018 strong with a .943 OPS in 23 games as a September callup, but his .765 OPS with the Bisons leaves room for improvement. Keeping Smoak under contract also maintains organizational depth.

Solarte became a redundant piece for a Blue Jays infield that has alternatives at cheaper costs. , Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and are four candidates for three starting jobs, and that's before an expected late-April or early-May promotion for third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is factored in.

is another back-up option for the Blue Jays to consider. There is no shortage of options here and it became clear in recent months that Solarte's days in Toronto were numbered. The 31-year-old became a fan favorite at the start of the season, thanks to seven home runs and an .848 OPS in April. But his production quickly dropped, and he was frequently criticized for not running out routine ground balls.