The Houston Astros have reportedly claimed left-handed outfielder Nori Aoki from the Seattle Mariners.
Aoki batted leadoff for the Mariners in 2016, and posted a .283/.349/.388 batting line, adding four home runs and seven stolen bases. He finished the year with a 106 wRC+ and a .325 wOBA.
The signing of Aoki helps clarify the muddy outfield situation, with Colby Rasmus likely gone. Aoki spent most of his time during the 2016 season in left field for Seattle, but also has experience playing center. Most of Aoki's contributions appear to come on the offensive end however, as he posted a -8.8 defensive wAR this past season, along with -4 Defensive Runs Saved.
Diving further into Aoki's offensive production, the veteran slugger hits lefties very well and consistently shows great plate discipline, maintaining a low strikeout rate throughout his long career. The Astros will be able to hit Aoki at multiple spots in the lineup, further increasing his versatility.
Jeff Luhnow has announced that outfielders would be on the Astros off-season shop list and proved that by claiming Aoki off waivers. Nori Aoki had a base salary of $5,500,000 in 2016, with a 2017 option. Luhnow will happily pluck a career .280 hitter from a division foe like the Mariners, so this signing should please Astros management as well as its fans.
The Astros management has already proven to be aggressive this off-season in acquiring talent for 2017, as Luhnow acknowledged he made a mistake by being sellers at the trade deadline last season. With the core in place now, the Astros could be serious spenders in the coming months.
To further discuss the signing, click here.