Keep an eye on Norichika Aoki

Cleveland Indians v Kansas City RoyalsThe Mets are in the market for an outfielder, and there are solutions out there on the trade market, and in free agency. With some big name players in free agency, such as Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, and Michael Cuddyer, it is easy to overlook Norichika Aoki, the player we may need.

The 32-year-old outfielder has played in the major leagues for three years and has done well. His average has finished above .280 and his OBP has hovered around .350. For a team that finished 28th in batting average, Aoki’s .280 average would definitely be welcomed. His OBP would have placed second on the Mets if he were on the team this year, and he finished with a 1.0 WAR in 132 games.

Although fans will argue that Juan Lagares is the leadoff man going into the next season, his OBP would need to rise a bit to fit into the spot. Aoki can take care of the leadoff spot, and has experience in all three outfield spots, although he has played a majority of games in right field. Even if the Mets wanted Lagares in the leadoff spot, Aoki could bat second, and help manufacture runs by putting the ball in play and advancing the runner.

With Lucas Duda, Curtis Granderson and David Wright in the lineup, there are bound to be a lot of strikeouts, as all three players struck out more than 100 times this season. Aoki helps counter those players by putting the ball in play, as he struck out 49 times in 491 at-bats. If the lineup wanted more power, Aoki would not fit into that category, as he only homered once, and his slugging percentage was close to Eric Campbell’s, which hovered around .360.

This season, Aoki suffered from a groin injury and missed some of the season. He still appeared in 132 games, and is currently playing in the playoffs. The veteran’s postseason experience will come in handy when the Mets begin to compete for a wildcard spot, as Aoki has that experience.

With the Mets outfield defense being pretty solid, Aoki’s addition would be more welcomed than Cruz or Cuddyer. Aoki’s defense was less than average last season as he had -8 defensive runs saved rating, which is much lower than the average. This low rating may be because of his groin injury, because in his defensive runs saved rating was 13 in 2013. Hopefully with Granderson and Lagares in the outfield, the Mets could survive with Aoki playing right.

The Mets may not have much money to spend this offseason, as the team will be paying more money to those players receiving arbitration. Cruz and Cuddyer will most likely get big contracts, while Cabrera has been in contract talks with the Blue Jays. Aoki should not cost too much this offseason, and would be a nice third or fourth outfielder. Since he is only 32, a multiyear deal should be considered. With a multiyear offer, the Mets may have enough money to improve another position on the team.

19 comments for “Keep an eye on Norichika Aoki

  1. pal88
    October 12, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    I don’t know…he certainly isn’t the big bat I envisioned…I’m leaning more towards Cuddy…he would protect Wright in the 4th slot and also spell Duda against lefties…do a year with an option for the second year..that would get it done

    • James Newman
      October 12, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Thanks for the read pal88! I agree that Cuddyer would definitely provide more protection for Wright and Duda, but I’m worried about the price tag that may come along with acquiring Cuddyer. I wonder how much the Mets would be able to offer him to come play in New York.

  2. TexasGusCC
    October 12, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Aoki would be a better fit than Cuddyer, but neither compares to the addition of a bigger bat like Bautista, Kemp, or even Allen Craig. We need run producers, not injury prone aging players or players that have one strength, taking a walk. Only with these bozos in the front office has the almighty BB become such a weapon.

    I can name the criteria for the Hall of Fame: 3,000 hits, 500 HR, 1,000 RBI. How many walks does it take to get in? No one ever cared. When you walk, you leave it up to the next guy. But, in Queens there’s no accountability for anything, even bring runners home.

  3. Metsense
    October 12, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I think Aoki is a solid major league player but on a team that has Lagares as the center fielder he does not provide enough power compared to Cuddyer who is the other affordable free agent. Cuddyer made $10.5m last year and the two Young’s salaries could come close to covering that.
    If it came down to Aoki or MDD as my starting outfielder for 2015, I would chose Aoki because he has a track record and consistently has done it on the major league level.
    The other alternative is the trade market for an outfielder that is better than Cuddyer.

  4. HarryDoyle
    October 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    What kinda deal will Aoki get? 3/30? I’d rather Ichiro on a one year deal. That said, every possible trade should be explored first, then plans A, B and C in free agency before arriving at Ichiro.

  5. October 12, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    A multi-year deal for a player who at best is an average defender? Gee I wonder how That will go over with SA and the penniless Wilpons? James making excuses for Aoki’s defense is frightening. You could be his agent. What if he’s just not a very good defensive player? You do understand that at the age of 32 this coming contract will probably be his last opportunity for a hefty paycheck. So do you really expect the miserly Mets to fork over 20-30 million for 3 years? Groin injuries take time to heal and can have a lasting impact on a player who relies on putting the ball in play. Sorry but Aoki is 32 and declining. I don’t want to see the Mets reward a player for his past accomplishments. There are too many other players who are a better fit for the 2015 Mets than Aoki.

    • TexasGusCC
      October 13, 2014 at 12:14 am

      The only fit here is a .350 OBP and the Mets need a leadoff hitter. However, not many teams need a high OBP guy up first, especially one that doesn’t have great power or speed.

      I have seen Aoki make some nice running catches deep in right center, so he has range. Also, he supposedly has a strong and accurate arm. I wouldn’t mind him if Granderson was a good producer. Thus, I would prefer the power sticks first that give similar to Aoki’s attributes and can drive in runs.

    • James Newman
      October 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

      I don’t think Aoki is as bad as a defender as you’re making him out to be. Most of the other guys on the market aren’t going to win a gold glove award, and the thought would be with Lagares in center, he’d be able to cover a lot of ground.

      Also, the other players the Mets are linked to are going to cost a lot of money. Aoki may be the cheapest out of all of them. I agree that the Mets shouldn’t reward a player based on past accomplishments, but that is the game of baseball. Curtis Granderson last offseason is a prime example of that.

      • October 13, 2014 at 11:11 pm

        James exactly my point! And the Mets are stuck with Grandy for 3 more years regardless if he hits .229 or 329. You see .329 is the eternal optimist who hopes he catch lightning in a bottle with Grandy resurrecting his career in Queens. The other is reality.. No Aoki is not that bad but there are better options And they will not cost more money (technically). SA can trade 2 SP’s $ and a position player (Murphy) a young arm (Mejia) and an outfield prospect.for a top tier left fielder.

  6. eraff
    October 13, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Michael Morse

  7. October 13, 2014 at 7:47 am

    I agree TexasGus. You can then shift Granderson to left field.
    As for Michael Morse. There’s a reason why he only getting 1 year contracts. Hell be 33 in March. Are you going to sign him for 6 million+? He’s more suited for an AL team where he can occasionally DH and play first base.

    • TexasGusCC
      October 13, 2014 at 9:47 am

      And hurt every other year. You may say next year is his year to be healthy…

    • Raff
      October 15, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      If Morse is available at $6mil, that’s a bargain

      • October 15, 2014 at 11:03 pm

        I wonder why the Giants don’t seem to agree with you? If Morse is That valuable why isn’t he starting in the playoffs?

        • Name
          October 16, 2014 at 12:30 am

          Morse isn’t playing because he has an oblique injury for a while now. He played just 1 game in September and wasn’t on the division series roster.

          • October 16, 2014 at 1:25 am

            Thanks Name for informing me

  8. Joe Gomes
    October 13, 2014 at 11:37 am

    Cuddyer or someone else with power via trade.

  9. Patrick Albanesius
    October 13, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    If we get Tulo in a trade to account for the power at SS, then Aoki would be a marvelous fit. As he’s really the only power SS on the Mets radar though, it slims the chances that Aoki makes it hear. I think he’s a great player who could add to the team though.

  10. Raww
    October 14, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    What is Aoki that den Dekker is not, only better (and cheaper)?

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