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Justin Smoak heading to Japan

Former Ranger Justin Smoak is reportedly NPB bound

Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Free agent first baseman Justin Smoak is reportedly finalizing a deal to play in Japan in 2021. Multiple reports indicate that he is getting a one year deal with the Yomiuri Giants, with Jeff Passan saying it is expected to be for $6-7M.

This is a nice payday for Smoak, who was the Texas Rangers’ first round draft pick in 2008. Smoak made his major league debut with the Rangers in early 2010, but ended up going to Seattle in July, 2010, as the centerpiece of the Cliff Lee trade.

Smoak has carved out a lengthy major league career, but has not met the lofty expectations that he was saddled with as a prospect. Other than a nice two year run in 2017-18, he has essentially been a replacement level player, slashing .229/.322/.419 in 1286 major league games.

Smoak was with the Milwaukee Brewers to start 2020 but was released in early September. Smoak then signed with the San Francisco Giants, though he only appeared in three games.