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Smoak avoids arbitration with 1-year, $3.9M deal

Toronto first baseman hit 18 HRs in 2015

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with first baseman Justin Smoak on Wednesday night by signing the slugging first baseman to a one-year deal worth $3.9 million.

Smoak was rewarded for his bounceback 2015 season that included 18 home runs in 296 at-bats and Gold Glove-caliber defense. He also hit .226 with a .299 on-base percentage and a .768 OPS in 132 games.

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The final numbers Toronto and Smoak settled on were far greater than the projected arbitration amount by MLBTradeRumors. Smoak earned $1 million this year and was projected to make $2 million in 2016, but that also overlooked the $2.638 million he secured in 2014, which could help explain the final tally.

Smoak is expected to once again compete for playing time at first base with Chris Colabello. The two combined to hit 33 home runs with 113 RBIs for the Blue Jays in 2015 and each took turns as the regular starter at various points.

The 28-year-old Smoak typically received most of his playing time against right-handed pitchers and when Colabello started, it was Smoak who came off the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement. More of the same can be expected next season, and at a combined salary of $4.5 million, it has the potential to be a bargain.

Smoak was one of 10 Toronto players eligible for salary arbitration this offseason. The Blue Jays had until Wednesday night at 11:59 p.m. ET to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Any player who does not receive a tender offer would become a free agent instead of facing possible arbitration.

The Blue Jays non-tendered Smoak last year but then opted to quickly re-sign him on a one-year deal for $1 million. He would have earned far more in arbitration but Toronto opted for a different route this year and locked Smoak up early to a contract.

Smoak is a career .224 hitter with a .308 on-base percentage and a .699 OPS. He has 92 home runs and 293 RBIs in parts of six seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners and Rangers.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
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