Cleveland Indians: Nori Aoki could be a fallback option

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 01: Right fielder Norichika Aoki
PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 01: Right fielder Norichika Aoki /

Despite the fact that Nori Aoki is still a productive player, his value seems to have dropped significantly. One team that could take advantage of this? The Cleveland Indians.

Veteran Japanese outfielder Nori Aoki has now been in the league for six seasons, but is having a difficult time latching on to a club for the seventh. The slow-developing offseason certainly does come into play, but Aoki’s seemingly decreased market value is the main factor.

This could make it very easy for the Cleveland Indians to capitalize and find a diamond in the rough.

Undoubtedly, Aoki has seen some decline since his 37 2B/10 HR/30 SB rookie campaign in 2012. However, there certainly is more left in the tank for the 36-year-old outfielder.

Oddly enough, Aoki has been unable to even stick with a club, and even spent some time in the minor leagues in 2016.

  • November 3, 2016 – Houston Astros claimed Aoki off waivers following his .283/24 2B/4 HR/7 SB in 118 games
  • July 31, 2017 – Toronto Blue Jays acquired Aoki from Houston after he hit .272/12 2B/2 HR/5 SB in 70 games
  • August 29, 2017 – Toronto released Aoki after he hit .281/1 2B/3 HR
  • September 2, 2017 – New York Mets signed Aoki
  • October 30, 2017 – New York Mets release Aoki after he hit .284/7 2B/5 SB

The numbers clearly show that Aoki still has some value, so it’s baffling that he can’t seem to stick with a club. As Cleveland looks to improve their team without big spending, Aoki could be a perfect fit. Nori would not only be cheap, but they could possibly even get him on a minor league deal, similar to Melvin Upton Jr.‘s.

Considering that he is yet another left-handed hitting outfielder, at first glance, Aoki does not appear to be a great fit for Cleveland. However, his splits make him an intriguing option. Over his career, Aoki has hit .301 with a .361 OBP against left-handed pitching, as opposed to .279/.347 against righties.

The last few years, Cleveland has sought out speedy, veteran outfielders who can handle left-handed pitching. Aoki fits that description. With the recent health issues of Michael Brantley and Brandon Guyer, Aoki could be the perfect fallback option for the Indians.

Next: Could Cole Hamels be traded to Cleveland in 2018?

While this would seem to be unlikely at best, it makes perfect sense, and is something that the Indians should consider at the very least.