Phillies trade rumor: Team interested in Justin Smoak as bat bench
More smoke is coming from the Phillies rumor mill as the team is reportedly among those interested in adding Justin Smoak.
With the trade deadline quickly approaching, rumors are spreading like wildfire as teams attempt to shore up their rosters for a final playoff push. The Phillies are no exception as some smoke is starting to emerge from their camp, quite literally.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported Tuesday evening that the Phillies are among one of the clubs interested in Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak. They aren’t the only ones though as the Indians and Rays both are per Heyman and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, respectively.
Heyman also says one or two other teams are interested as well, bringing back echoes of the mystery teams he always mentioned during the offseason. Either way, if Philadelphia seriously pursues Smoak, they will have some competition.
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With Rhys Hoskins already entrenched as the starting first baseman, Smoak would be a bench bat for the Phillies. While his defensive versatility is relatively limited, he would instantly become the best hitter of the bench, left or right-handed. He would be much more threatening than Sean Rodriguez or Andrew Knapp.
In 86 games this year, Smoak has a .215/.357/.427 line, 18 home runs, 46 runs batted in, 112 wRC+, 16.7% walk rate, and 19.8% strikeout rate. His numbers are especially potent against righties, who Philadelphia ranks 20th in OPS against this year. Smoak has a .868 OPS and 16 of his 18 home runs against righties.
While Smoak isn’t a fantastic defender (or even an average one really), he still offers a slight upgrade over Hoskins. In 570 innings this year, he has -3 defensive runs saved and a -0.3 UZR/150. Meanwhile, Hoskins has -6 defensive runs saved and a -2.7 UZR/150 in 920.2 innings.
Smoak would almost certainly be a rental as he is a free agent after this year once his three-year, $16.25 million ends. Like Jason Vargas, who was acquired Monday, Smoak fits the mold of a short-term fix to round out the current core roster.
It’s effortless to compare Smoak to Justin Bour, who the Phillies picked up in an August trade last year. While the timing may not be the same, Smoak would fill a similar role for the team. Bour ultimately didn’t stick around for long, and the same will likely true for Smoak.