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Brewers win exclusive negotiating rights for Norichika Aoki with $2.5 million posting fee

Dec 17, 2011, 7:45 PM EDT


UPDATE, 7:45 PM: The Brewers had the $2.5 million winning bid, according to Yanagita, and now have 30 days to work out a major league contract.

8:51 AM: Yasuko Yanagita of Japanese newspaper Hochi Shimbun and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports are both hearing that the Yakult Swallows have accepted a $2.5 million posting fee for outfielder Norichika Aoki.

It is not known which MLB team made the winning bid, but once it is officially announced, they will be given an exclusive 30-day negotiating window to work out a contract.

Aoki, who turns 30 next month, has a .329 batting average over eight seasons in Japan and is a three-time Central League batting champion. However, the speedy center fielder batted a career-low .292 and hit just four home runs this past season in what was a down year for offense in Nippon Professional Baseball.

We’ll have to wait to find out the identity of the winning team, but Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported last week that the Nationals could target Aoki as an alternative for center field after failing to land B.J. Upton or Denard Span in potential trades.

  1. natstowngreg - Dec 17, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    If Rizzo and Davey see him as an good enough defensive CF who can get on base in front of Zimmerman and Morse, then it’s worth risking a few mil. If they see him as a bottom of the order hitter, however good his defense, there are likely less expensive alternatives.

    Of course, that’s if the Nats won the negotiating rights.

    • natstowngreg - Dec 18, 2011 at 8:18 AM

      …which they did not.

  2. tgifinley88 - Dec 17, 2011 at 8:19 PM

    if braun indeed gets 50 games this looks to be his replacement. after that……top bench bat? need a lefty OF now that kotsay is in san diego.

  3. jwbiii - Dec 17, 2011 at 10:48 PM

    I don’t like this for a number of reasons.

    First, a bit of background. In 2011, NPB introduced a baseball that was similar to an MLB baseball. Before, each team chose their own baseballs. ERAs decreased by 25% (presumably runs scored as well; NPB’s official statistician makes Elias look like baseball-reference). The players who seem to have suffered the most were the slap/dash hitters, the same kind hitters (middle infielders, center fielders) who don’t make it in MLB. Akinori Iwamura, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, those guys. Norichika Aoki seems like one of those guys.

    Second, Why Milwaukee? They have offered arbitration to two CFs (Morgan, Gomez) and have Logan Schafer on the 40 man. I’m not sure he’s a better hitter than Gomez as a Braun placeholder if necessary.

    Third, Aoki’s career slash line looks like Willie Wilson in a good year. Adjusting for context, I think it’s more like Omar Moreno.

    Fourth, he’ll turn 30 in three weeks. Player whose only offensive skills are speed and contact don’t age well. Sometimes their careers end in amusing fashions (Oh that’s Aoki. . . He’s Japanese).

  4. hittfamily - Dec 17, 2011 at 11:35 PM

    He looks like a AAA player to me.

  5. beltmerica - Dec 18, 2011 at 1:01 AM


  6. aomage - Dec 18, 2011 at 1:04 AM

    In my opinion it seems that many of you are underestimating Aoki. While it is true that his slugging went down to .363 this year due to the new ball introduced in the NPB it does take time to get adjusted to new things and over the past few years he has averaged around .500 so it seems more like an off-season rather than a downward trend now.

    Many felt the same when Ichiro came over to the MLB and we all know how that turned out. Aoki is seen by many as better than Ichiro in Asia, which is probably the reason the Koreans decided to intentionally walk Aoki and rather face Ichiro instead in the final game of WBC 09. Though it remains to be seen whether he will be as good as Ichiro his expectations are pretty big so I doubt he would end up like Nishioka.

    • jwbiii - Dec 18, 2011 at 4:29 AM

      While i disagree, I appreciate an informed comment. Thank you.

    • paperlions - Dec 18, 2011 at 10:56 AM

      Honest question. If “many” view Aoki as Ichiro’s equal or better, why was the winning bid for Aoki only $2.5M, when 11 years ago Ichiro posted for over $13M?

      The rate of failure of Japanese hitters int he US has been pretty high, 2 successful transitions and all the rest have been outright busts.

      • aomage - Dec 18, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        To be honest I felt the $2.5m posting was pretty low compared to what other posting bid offers have been given to the likes of Nishioka ($5.3m) and Iwamura ($4.5m) but I guess this shows that the MLB in general is bearish on Japanese imports, that is, if your name doesn’t start with Yu.

        Ichiro was pretty much the first Japanese player to be an everyday position player 11 years ago so I believe the $13m was pretty much a premium because of that, not to mention the buzz that he created that brought an influx of Japanese viewers for the Mariners.

        The high expectations of Japanese players after being posted for such a high amount of money just to be able to talk to the person to create a contract is what probably makes others feel that they are a bust unless they turn into all star caliber players like Matsui and Ichiro.

        As for Aoki himself guess we will have to see how he turns out when he comes out and plays in the bigs. My opinion is that Aoki flew under the radar due to the discussions of Darvish which is why his posting bid was so low. These two articles both by Patrick Newman and one by Scotty Allen describes the player that Aoki is seen as:

      • hittfamily - Dec 18, 2011 at 4:53 PM

        paperlions. You should have just googled it.

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