Seth Smith will be a Padre through the 2016 season, with a club option for 2017. Mixed reactions to this extension are to be expected.
On the one hand, he has been an average to above average player based on his 108 wRC+ over the entirety of his career. As Dave Cameron points out, the contract isn’t onerous and actually retains his services at a discount based on his performance.
Fangraphs credits him with 2.2 WAR worth $11.8M so far in 2014. Assuming he’ll end up a 3 to 3.5 WAR player at the end of the season, he’ll have been worth ~$18M. He’s been between a 1.1 to 1.3 WAR player for most of his career. If he returns to that production level, he’ll still be worth the $6-7M per year he’s going to get.
On the other hand, he’s 31 and below average defensively. It seems the Padres have once again extended a player based on ‘career year’ numbers. This has become a modus operandi for the club since they declined to extend Chase Headley following the 2012 season. A fatalistic observer would conclude they’re now cursed to extend every hot player because they didn’t extend Headley. The cynical one sees no difference between the fired GM and those currently entrusted to steward this club.
What was the urgency to sign him now? If the plan is to have a new GM in place by the end of August, could this decision have waited until that individual was in place? Smith would still have been months away from free agency.
For what it’s worth, I like Seth Smith as a baseball player and have for years. For a franchise close to contending or fighting for a playoff spot, this extension makes total sense, but San Diego is neither of these. He’s a great guy to have on the club, but if this club intends to go in a new direction I’m not sure this is the best first move.