By Jay Blue
Blue Jays from Away
Now that the season is over, the crew at Blue Jays from Away will take a look at the Blue Jays one by one and review how each player's season went, whether he met expectations (or not) and look at how he fits into (what we think of) the Blue Jays' plans going forward.
Norichika Aoki, 35, was a veteran piece to come over to the Blue Jays from Houston in the trade that also brought Teoscar Hernandez to Toronto in exchange for lefty Francisco Liriano on July 31.
Before coming to the U.S. at the age of 30, Aoki had played eight seasons in Japan, compiling a .329/.402/.454 slash line. He was a seven-time NPB All-Star (and was All-Star Game MVP twice) and he was the NPB Central League Rookie of the Year in 2005.
Aoki was posted to MLB in the 2011-2012 offseason and the Milwaukee Brwers won the bid with a posting fee of $2.5 million and brought him to the major leagues where he had his best season in the majors with a .288/.355/.433 slash line. He played one more season in Milwaukee and was traded to Kansas City for 2014 and signed as a free agent with San Francisco for 2015, going to Seattle in 2016.
In 2017, he was claimed off waivers from Seattle by the Astros, putting up a pretty typical (for Aoki), .272/.323/.371 slash line (although his OBP was way down from the .350 range it had been throughout his big league career).
In Toronto, Aoki had a .281/.294/.594 slash line, hitting three home runs in just 12 games (and more than the two home runs he hit in 71 games in Houston) but he didn't get to use his speed, not stealing any bases.
Aoki was released on August 29 so that the Blue Jays could call up a pitcher from the minor leagues and he quickly signed on with the New York Mets, hitting .284/.371/.373 with seven doubles and a triple over 27 games there.
Aoki really isn't in anyone's plans for for 2018. Flush with younger outfielders (including Teoscar Hernandez, who came over with Aoki from Houston), the Blue Jays will likely look for an outfielder who can provide more power than Aoki would be able to give them.
Aoki is a free agent.
Regular Season Grades
Jay Blue: Incomplete
Emily: A- (Small Sample Size)
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The 2017 Toronto Blue Jays Minor League Handbook is now available! Check out the Handbook page for more information!