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.