Aug. 29: The Blue Jays announced that they’ve given Aoki his unconditional release. He’s a free agent and can sign with any team for the pro-rated league minimum through season’s end.
Aug. 28: The Blue Jays have designated outfielder Nori Aoki for assignment and recalled right-hander Leonel Campos from Triple-A Buffalo to clear a spot on the active roster, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.
Toronto acquired Aoki, 35, at the non-waiver trade deadline in that swap that sent lefty Francisco Liriano to the Astros. Aoki’s inclusion in the deal, however, looked to be largely a financial mechanism to provide further incentive for Houston to part with well-regarded outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez. That looks to be even more true now, as Aoki logged just 34 plate appearances with the Jays and hit .281/.294/.594 with a double and three homers in that time.
Even with that small power surge, Aoki’s batting line on the whole is a rather pedestrian .274/.319/.402 in 258 PAs between Houston and Toronto. He’s earning $5.5MM in 2017, and about $1.02MM of that sum is yet to be paid out. The Jays can spend the next week looking for a trade partner or can simply eat the remainder of the contract and release Aoki into free agency. He’s arbitration-eligible through the 2018 campaign, though given his lackluster offensive output and fairly sizable $5.5MM salary, he was a non-tender candidate for the Jays this winter anyhow.