Royals: Making the correct free agent gambles can make all the difference

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Royals, Justin Smoak
(Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Justin Smoak is the kind of player we keep expecting Lucas Duda to become. May as well sign the real thing this offseason.

Justin Smoak is not going to repeat his peak season of 2017 when he hit 38 homeruns. But, then again, if he was likely to do any such thing the Royals would not be able to afford him.

Smoak will be 33 years old in 2020. And he is not really much of a switch hitter anymore. As a right-handed hitter, he is just not very good.

But, he has still hit 47 homeruns over the last two seasons. He does still get on base at about a 35 percent clip. And he still plays very good first base, he almost won a Gold Glove this season. He is particularly good at fielding throws to first base from his teammates, a skill we could use with our young infielders.

Smoak is also very good with younger players. He has been forced into a veteran mentor role in Toronto and he has responded very well. He has been the voice of veteran leadership on a team filled with up and coming baby major leaguers. That seems like a guy we may have a spot for in 2020.

Smoak is past his prime and is a free agent. He should be open to a reasonable short-term deal. And, if we are not convinced our young first basemen can handle the job, we should consider bringing him aboard.