Hitting the free agency market after reaching the World Series with the Kansas City Royals, Norichika Aoki should be picking up a lot of interest around the league and specifically from the Cincinnati Reds and the Detroit Tigers.
Aoki has been in the United States, playing Major League baseball since 2012. First with the Brewers (2012, 2013) and this season with the Royals, he has been a very consistent hitter, posting a .285 batting average and a .352 OPS for his short three-year career. After making $2 million last season on the Royals, Aoki is looking for a deal that doesn’t necessarily pay a lot more money, but gives him guaranteed job security for a few more years.
The Royals would love to re-sign the right fielder, but they’re wary of overpaying an outfield who has no power in his bat, hitting just 19 home runs in 1608 at bats in three seasons. He had just one home run for the Royals in 2014. His slugging bottomed out at .360 last season.
The Reds are probably thinking of Aoki as a better option than Ryan Ludwick who has done poorly over the last two years, but in terms of power hitting has similar numbers to Aoki.
The Tigers will look to pursue Aoki only if it’s Torii Hunter they’re replacing. Hunter does look like he’s on the way out of Detroit, but he’s not the only one. If it’s Victor Martinez they’ll be trying to replace, Aoki will probably be glanced over in favor of someone with a bit more home runs on his resume.