Brewers Win Rights To Norichika Aoki

MONDAY: MLB officially announced the Brewers won the bid for Aoki.  They now have 30 days to negotiate a contract with him.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Brewers plan to work him out in Arizona before deciding whether to sign him.

SATURDAY: The Yakult Swallows have announced that the Brewers won the negotiating rights to Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, reports Yasuko Yanagita of Hochi Shimbun (on Twitter). We heard that Yakult accepted the $2.5MM bid yesterday.

Aoki, 30 in January, is a three-time Central League batting champion and posted a career line of .336/.411/.472 in his first seven seasons in Japan.  His numbers fell to 292/.358/.360 in 2011, which explains the modest size of the posting fee. NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman (writing for Fangraphs) said in August 2010 that Aoki was "the best pure hitter Japan has produced since Ichiro" and has good defensive range, though a weak throwing arm will probably limit Aoki to left field in the majors. 

The Brewers seem to have plenty of outfield depth with Ryan Braun, Corey Hart, Nyjer Morgan, and Carlos Gomez, but there's a chance they could lose Braun for the first 50 games of the season after his failed drug test. GM Doug Melvin recently said he is proceeding with his offseason under the assumption that Braun will be in the lineup all season, however. As a left-handed hitter, Aoki could serve as a bat off the bench or give the team depth to make a trade.


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