The San Diego Padres and outfielder Seth Smith have agreed on a two-year contract extension worth $13 million, as originally reported by Corey Brock of MLB.com. The deal also includes a $7 million team option for the 2017 season which includes a $250K buyout. Smith will earn $6 million next year and $6.75 million in 2016 (per Brock and Chris Cotillo).
Smith, acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for reliever Luke Gregerson over the winter, is in the midst of a career season in what was supposed to be his walk year. The left-handed corner outfield is hitting .281/.384/.506 with a .389 wOBA, 155 wRC+, and 2.2 WAR.
Smith was thought by many to have a high likelihood of being traded this month, but that appears not to be the case. According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, as part of the deal, Smith has been assured that San Diego will not be dealing him anytime soon.
The move is rather curious considering San Diego is 10.5 games back in the NL West, and things don't appear to be getting much brighter over the next two years, especially with powerhouses such as the Dodgers and Giants in the division. It also stands to reason that San Diego could have brought back a worthwhile prospect by dealing Smith, which makes the signing all the more questionable.
To think that Smith can improve his stock would be foolish, as he has only once topped 2.0 WAR in a season once prior to this year, and is generally regarded as a sub-par defender. He has also shown a heavy platoon split throughout his career, notching a .851 OPS versus righties, but just a .591 OPS against left-handers. However, as Dave Cameron notes at Fangraphs, San Diego does do well financially here, as Smith likely would have received more had he been able to test the open market this offseason.
The signing is the first major transaction made since Josh Byrnes' firing from the general manager position just over a week ago. The organization's baseball operations are currently being led by the trio of assistant GMs AJ Hinch and Fred Uhlman, as well as Senior VP Omar Minaya.
With Smith off the market, the trade market for position players has taken a rather sizable hit, as he quite possibly may have been the best hitter available that had a reasonable chance of being dealt. His absence likely leaves Alex Rios, Ben Zobrist, and fellow Padre Chase Headley as the top available position players, though none of them are close to sure things to be traded.
For San Diego, Smith's signing does improve the probability that they deal one of their three remaining outfielders in Chris Denorfia, Will Venable, and Carlos Quentin. San Diego has shopped the trio in the past, with Denorfia drawing buzz as recently as yesterday.