The San Francisco Giants have parted ways with 33 year old outfielder, Nori Aoki, at least for the time being, opting for his $700,000 buyout over a $5.5 million option. As first reported late Wednesday night by John Shea of SFGate, Aoki had recently been cleared of any concussion symptoms and has been given the green light to play baseball and despite rejecting his option, may still appear on the Giants roster if they decide to sign him as a free agent.
In 93 games with the 2015 Giants, Aoki proved his worth with another consistent season at the plate and an error free season in the outfield. His strikeout rate was lowest in the league among batters with 350+ at bats and his five home runs were actually on pace to finish around his 10 and 8 home run seasons with the Brewers (he hit only one homer during his 2014 stint with the Royals in which he had 39 more plate appearances than 2015).
This move frees up $4.8 million on the Giants payroll presumably meaning the team hopes to sign him for less than that on the free agent market. Considering his consistency over the past four years at the plate and his solid defense it seems unlikely that he won't get a better offer than that from another team and a larger offer from the Giants would be an odd move from a financial standpoint.
Aoki has played for four seasons in both leagues and has among the most consistent batting lines in baseball. He'd be a prime acquisition target for any team hoping for a player with good plate discipline and the ability to get on base, even if his power numbers aren't particularly enviable.
It seems clear that the Giants are keeping their options open and keeping as much payroll available for the big acquisitions they cannot afford to ignore, namely a solid starting pitcher. The team also declined Marlon Byrd's option, which did not come with a buyout, and left him six at bats shy of his $8 million vesting option during the 2015 season. With the obvious hopes that Pence is clear of concussion symptoms and a few potential outfield options in the farm system, the Giants can afford to lose these players and put their money to more pressing issues.