Right fielder Norichika Aoki spent the last 2 seasons with the Brewers and is now a Royals. Photo by Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals acquire Norichika Aoki from Brewers


The outfield for the Kansas City Royals just got a bit more crowded, but not in the way Royals fans were hoping this holiday shopping season.

The Royals traded left handed pitcher Will Smith today to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for lefthand hitting right fielder Norichika Aoki. Aoki, 31, spent the past 2 seasons with the Brewers after his contract was purchased from the Yakult Swallows in the Japan Central league.

Aoki hit .288 and .286 in 151 and 155 games the past 2 years, respectively. He had a combined .399 slugging percentage and .355 on base percentage with only 18 home runs during that span for the Crew.

He ranked 10th in the National League last year in total hits (171), 9th in stolen bases in 2012 (30), 3rd in fielding percentage as a right fielder in 2013 (.990%), and had 7 and 9 assists the past 2 years, respectively.
In 597 at bats last year, Aoki generated only 37 runs batted in.

Smith, 23, generated excitement out of the Royals bullpen last year. In 19 appearances he pitched 33.1 innings, allowing 24 hits and 12 eared runs with 43 strikeouts. He gave up 6 long balls and had a walks-hits-per-innings pitched ratio of 0.930.
Aoki joins a crowded Kansas City outfield that includes Alex Gordon in left field, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson in center field and David Lough and Justin Maxwell in right field. The Royals also protect minor league outfielder Lane Adams on their 40 man roster.

Just days after a visit from highly coveted free agent right fielder and former Royal Carlos Beltran made news in Kansas City, the Royals have seemingly filled the void they were hoping to fill by signing Beltran.

Tim Collins is the only regular bullpen lefty on the Royals roster now that Smith is gone, though the Royals used Francisley Bueno, Donnie Joseph and Everett Teaford during short stretches last year. Danny Duffy, coming off Tommy John surgery is another bullpen lefty potential, though the Royals would prefer he fill a starting spot.

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Tags: Carlos Beltran Kansas City Royals Norichika Aoki Will Smith

  • Bob Ellis

    This was a fantastic trade. Should trigger a flurry of other moves now. I’ll be interested to see what this roster looks like in another couple of weeks.

  • jimfetterolf

    Royals may have overpaid but they desperately needed a lead off hitter, even for just a year. Not sure how Aoki’s OBP will translate with Hosmer or Gordon batting behind him and the K may challenge his defense as well as pretty much eliminate his power. Also guarantees Lough at Omaha and either Dyson or Maxwell gone, as well as giving up Smith, whom I thought highly of.

    • Eric Akers

      I have heard different things regarding Lough as to whether he actually has any remaining options. I am not sure it is much of an overpay. The Brewers definitely get more years out of Smith, but we get a full time above average hitting right fielder.

      • jimfetterolf

        I like Smith, had him penciled in as #5 starter so the Royals could game Ventura’s Super Two status.

        As for Aoki, I’m wondering how his defense plays at Kauffman and what his OBP does hitting ahead of Hosmer, Gordon, and Billy. If I’m pitching him I feed him a steady diet of fastballs up rather than walk him and set the table.

  • Eric Akers

    I am hoping it means we no longer get Beltran, although it sounds like he is still being pursued. If we add anything at this point, i am hoping for a second baseman (Ellis maybe) rather than trade Butler.

    • Bob Ellis

      Ellis would be an okay get at 2B depending on what type of salary he commands. What would it take I wonder to pry Murphy from the Mets? He could be a decent 2 hitter behind Aoki, which allows you to move Gordon down a bit and strengthen the middle of the order with Billy, Hosmer, Gordon, Perez from 3 thru 6. That’s much cheaper than getting a Beltran type and keeps the lineup younger. Picking up a 2 hitter rather than a middle of the order bat allows you to strengthen the middle from within.

      • Eric Akers

        I would like Murphy as well. I think Ellis would command $4-5 million, maybe (just guessing). But either way, I wouldn’t want them batting number 2. An interesting exercise would be to think about the lineup with the current guys, or one of those two guys at 2B. We seem to have a lot of lefties that should be batting around the top of the order.

        • Bob Ellis

          No way I bat Ellis 2….he’d hit 8 or 9. Murphy I’d consider but ideally he’d make a better 7 hitter most likely.

          Trying to figure out a way to use guys we have (specifically slotting Gordon into the middle) to strengthen those 3 thru 6 spots…DM wants a middle of the order bat. I’m just trying to figure out if we were to land a 2 hitter, if we could make up a good middle of the order with what we’ve already got – or if we really need that middle of the order guy to come from outside the franchise.

  • unclejesse40

    I like it! I would trade relief pitchers all day in order to get starting position players.