The Astros agreed with outfielder Nori Aoki on a $5.5MM deal with him to avoid arbitration, according to Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). MLBTR had projected a $6.8MM salary for the veteran, so this represents a rather notable cost savings for the club.
While Aoki could have justifiably asked for a raise, the alternative was to test the open market. Though it’s possible he could have done as well or better there, he may simply have decided that he liked the price and the fit in Houston.
Soon to turn 35, Aoki was claimed off waivers from the Mariners earlier in the offseason. It wasn’t clear at the time whether the Astros would ultimately tender him a contract; yet more questions were raised when the club went out and added another left-handed-hitting corner outfielder in Josh Reddick.
It seems that Houston still likes the idea of utilizing Aoki in some kind of platoon. Presumably, he’ll share time with Yulieski Gurriel or some other right-handed hitter in left field.
Aoki has typically produced at just above the league-average rate, and that was true again last year in Seattle, as he put up a .283/.349/.388 slash over 467 plate appearances. He doesn’t typically carry platoon splits, and he has struck out in only eight percent of his trips to the plate in his career, making him a reliable — albeit somewhat unexciting — offensive presence.