Kansas City Royals acquire Norichika Aoki from Brewers


Right fielder

Norichika Aoki

spent the last 2 seasons with the Brewers and is now a Royal. Photo by Benny Sieu-USA TODAY

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.