Could he be the Reds next LF if they trade Alonso for pitching? I wonder what he would cost? I also wonder how he compares to Fukodome?The Tokyo Yakult Swallows are posting three-time Central League batting champion Norichika Aoki, according to the Japan Times (via Patrick Newman). Teams can now bid for the right to negotiate with the 29-year-old outfielder via the posting system. CAA agent Nez Balelo will represent Aoki, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
Aoki hit .292/.358/.360 in 643 plate appearances in 2011 -- a definite dropoff compared to 2010, when he won his third batting title. Last year Newman called Aoki "the best pure hitter Japan has produced since Ichiro," and explained that the outfielder has great range and a below-average arm.
If he costs less than $10MM over 3 years, it might be worth signing him to be the 4th OF and insurance so that they can comfortably discuss trading 1-2 of Stubbs/Heisey/Alonso for pitching. At worst he's a solid 4th OF that probably has some trade value. At best, he's a poor man's Ichiro but a real, everyday LF that can hit and play the position.
As a bonus, maybe he's related to Rocky Aoki, the father of Benihana (restaurants)