Yakult Accepts $2.5MM Posting Bid On Norichika Aoki

The Yakult Swallows have accepted a $2.5MM posting fee on outfielder Norichika Aoki, reports Yasuko Yanagita of Japanese newspaper Hochi Shimbun (Twitter link).  The $2.5MM was the highest bid Yakult received and it is unknown which Major League team placed the winning bid.

Aoki, who turns 30 on January 5, 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.  Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan describes Aoki as "Ichiro Lite, emphasis on Lite," and thinks the top bidder got a "bargain" at $2.5MM.  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. 

ESPN's Jerry Crasnick speculated in November that the Mets, Athletics, Nationals and Indians could have an interest in Aoki, though we later heard Cleveland wasn't interested.

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