Aoki story ongoing

As of Monday morning there were still more questions than answers about the Brewers and Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, who were linked in news reports over the weekend.

According to the Associated Press, the Yakult Swallows announced they had accepted a winning bid from the Brewers for Aoki after posting the player last week. Multiple reports said the Brewers paid $2.5 million for the right to a 30-day negotiating window with Aoki. But as of this writing, Major League Baseball and the Brewers have made no announcements. On Sunday, Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said the club could not yet confirm a winning bid.’s Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter this morning that the Brewers will run Aoki through workouts at Maryvale Baseball Park before deciding whether to pursue signing him. It makes sense that club officials would want a first-hand look; the Brewers do not scout at all in Japan, so their knowledge of Aoki would be through video and second-hand reports.

If the Brewers indeed won the bid and want to sign Aoki, would be be interested in Milwaukee, a Midwestern city with a small Asian population? Would he be interested in the Brewers, a team facing uncertainty in left field while Ryan Braun appeals a suspension but otherwise deep in the outfield, with Carlos Gomez and Nyjer Morgan expected to share center field duties? Would it open the Brewers to trade one of those players?

The Brewers have never employed a Japanese position player, and have imported only one Japanese player directly — reliever Takahito Nomura, who walked 18 batters and allowed 11 hits in 13 2/3 innings in 2002. The four other Japanese pitchers to appear in a Milwaukee uniform — Hideo Nomo, Mac Suzuki, Tomo Ohka and Takashi Saito — all established themselves as U.S. Major Leaguers before coming to the Brewers.

Lots of questions still to be answered this week.


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