With the Chicago Cubs sending outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday, the team could be a potential destination for one of the many San Diego Padres outfielders – namely Seth Smith – whose name has come up quite a bit since the team reportedly acquired Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays and Matt Kemp from the Los Angeles Dodgers.
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According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, San Diego, under the direction of first-year general manager A.J. Preller, is likely to deal from their surplus of outfielders, which has only grown since the new front office took over. Last season, the team was dominated by strong pitching, headlined by former Cubs’ prospect Andrew Cashner. Heading into 2015 with a roster still very much in flux, Preller’s club shows much more balance – but is probably far from done.
Chicago’s offseason, meanwhile, has been headlined by the acquisition of southpaw Jon Lester, who signed a six-year, $155 million deal last week, as well as the trade for Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero and the signing of free agent Jason Hammel. With the trade of Ruggiano, the team could likely use a short-gap measure in the outfield while the likes of Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber and Billy McKinney work their way up to Chicago in the coming years, joining the likes of Arismendy Alcantara and Jorge Soler in the outfield.
Smith presents an interesting option that could potentially be available. More than once, rumors tying Chicago to free agent veteran Jonny Gomes have surfaced, as well as the likes of former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus and Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Ben Revere. That being said, Smith, who is under team control for two more seasons, adds yet-another name to the mix.
Last season, the 32-year-old veteran appeared in 134 games for the Friars – his highest single-season total since 2011, while batting .266/.367/.440 in 521 plate appearances. He also added 12 home runs and drove in 48 runs, while also smacking 31 doubles – meaning he has value at the dish, although he likely won’t ever see his name in the MVP balloting at the end of the season.
Smith, a left-handed bat who also throws left-handed, is a former second-round pick of the Colorado Rockies, the team with which he made his big league debut back in 2007.
Five years later, in Jan. 2012, he was dealt to the Oakland Athletics, with whom he spent a pair of seasons before joining San Diego in Dec. 2013 in the trade that sent Luke Gregerson to the A’s.
Heading into 2015, Chicago has the likes of Soler and Alcantara manning two of the three outfield spots with Chris Coghlan likely manning the third after a solid 2014 campaign in which he posted an .804 OPS – his best tally since winning the National League Rookie of the Year Award back in 2009 with the then-Florida Marlins. He excelled as the team’s leadoff man, spending 61 games in the number one hole for the Cubs, adding pop with half-a-dozen home runs.
Smith is never going to be an All-Star caliber player – regardless of where he plays. That being said, he could be a relatively inexpensive option for the Cubs, a team that has several more young outfielders waiting in the wings. Whether or not the team will want to part with prospects or other pieces rather than pursue free agents with money remains to be seen. Until that decision is made, don’t count out options like Revere and more recently, Smith.