Another day, another baseball move.
The Kansas City Royals added an outfield bat to the mix, acquiring Norichika Aoki from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for left-handed reliever Will Smith, the Brewers announced Thursday.
Aoki, 31, owns a career line of .287/.355/.399 with 50 steals in 70 attempts in two seasons with the Brewers. He'll have an everyday outfield job and -- likely -- bat first for the Royals, who struggled to get anything from their No. 1 hitter this season, posting a .309 OBP from the leadoff spot. Aoki played 150-plus games in both seasons for Milwaukee, including a 162-game average of 85 runs, 30 doubles, 10 home runs, 46 RBIs and 26 steals, according to Baseball Reference.
The latest projected lineup for Kansas City, courtesy of MLB Depth Charts:
1. Norichika Aoki, RF
2. Alex Gordon, LF
3. Eric Hosmer, 1B
4. Billy Butler, DH
5. Salvador Perez, C
6. Mike Moustakas, 3B
7. Lorenzo Cain, CF
8. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B
9. Alcides Escobar, SS
The Royals are reportedly still in the mix for Carlos Beltran, which, in turn, could make Billy Butler that much more expendable. Regardless, Aoki's presence in a leadoff capacity has a huge trickle-down effect for the rest of the lineup, which allows Alex Gordon to settle into the No. 2 spot, followed by Eric Hosmer, Butler (or Beltran?) and Salvador Perez. Two plus on-base hitters at the top of the order is great news for the middle of Kansas City's lineup. (I'm looking at you, Hosmer.)
After hitting 10 home runs and stealing 30 bases in 2012, Aoki's stats declined some this season (most notably his power numbers), but everything else stayed roughly the same. His strikeout and walk rate both improved, and he scored 80 runs for the second consecutive season. He makes great contact and could see his runs scored tease the century mark; he'll also be given the green light on the base paths, as Ned Yost's group led the league with 153 stolen bases. Overall, Aoki's fantasy value goes up in Kansas City.
As for the the other end of the deal, Smith, who pitched primarily in a relief role with the Royals, could end up in Milwaukee's starting rotation. The 24-year-old struck out a filthy 11.61 batters per nine while posting an impressive 6.14 K/BB ratio (in 33 1/3 innings), but it remains to be seen what role the Brewers choose to use him in. He's not worth rostering in standard formats.
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