When the Reds declined Ryan Ludwick’s 2015 option, they assured the club would be in the market for a new starting left-fielder. Reds general manager Walt Jocketty confirmed this weekend that Nori Aoki and Michael Morse are priority targets, indicating the club preferred to acquire a LF through free agency rather than by trade (John Fay, Cincinnati Enquirer). Given his severe defensive liabilities in the OF, Morse seems destined for a 1B/DH role.

That leaves Aoki, who after a superb eight-year career in Japan, has played for the Brewers in 2012 and 2013 and for the Kansas City Royals in 2014.

Report are circulating this morning (Jon Heyman, CBS Sports) that Aoki will seek a three-year deal and that the Reds are among teams interested. Experts in these things (Charlie WIlmouth, MLBTR) estimate that the left-handed hitter may earn $16 million on a two-year deal.

Should the Reds sign Aoki to a three-year deal, in the neighborhood of $20 million?

As I wrote a month ago, in certain respects, Aoki’s hitting has been consistent thus far through his MLB career. His batting average has finished between .285-.288 each season. His walk-rate has fluctuated from 7.3 to 8.2 percent (which is right around league average of 7.6 percent). That combination produced a tightly bunched OBP between .349 and .356. He also doesn’t strike out much.

The Reds finished 29th in OBP in 2014, so that’s definitely an area in need of improvement. And on-base skills are Aoki’s best quality. A great match, yes?

Not so fast. Looking primarily at past OBP is a simplistic recipe for failure.

First of all, Aoki will turn 33 this January. Expecting a player to perform the same from age 33-35 as he did ages 30-32 is fraught with peril. Remember the green line on this aging curve?

aging_curve_wrcp

Jeff Zimmerman, FanGraphs

Over the past three seasons, Nori Aoki has already exhibited telltale devolution in his hitting.

Aoki’s power has vanished. His home run total has declined from 10 to just 1 in 2014. Likewise, his doubles have fallen from 37 to 22. If you prefer rate-stats to counting-stats, Aoki’s isolated slugging rate (ISO) has plummeted from .144 to .075. For context, consider that among the 146 qualified hitters last year, Aoki’s power was fifth from last, ahead of only Ben Revere, Derek Jeter, Elvis Andrus and Casey McGehee. Nori Aoki would have finished between Skip Schumaker and Ramon Santiago in ISO on the 2014 Reds.

A further suggestive indication that his batting approach is in decay is Aoki’s fly ball rate. It’s fallen sharply, from 27 percent to 17 percent in three years. His ground ball rate of 62 percent was second highest in the majors, again ahead of just Ben Revere.

Aoki has rapidly become purely a slap-hitter.

Yes, Aoki is fast, but he’s been a horrible base runner. His stolen base total declined from 30 in 2012 to 17 for the Royals. Alarmingly, his success rate is 68 percent, below the cut-off for where SB attempts are a net positive contribution to scoring runs. Aoki would have been a frightening fit on Steve Smith’s Reds, having been thrown out a staggering fourteen times at home plate this year. Nick Ashbourne at Beyond the Box Score posted a detailed and cautionary breakdown of Aoki’s overall weakness as a base runner.

The defensive metrics are split on Aoki. His defensive runs saved number was -8 last season. Ned Yost benched him for three games for defensive reasons when the World Series moved to San Francisco’s expansive right field. Defense in left field isn’t a primary concern for the Reds, but it it’s not a plus for Aoki.

Conclusion

Nori Aoki’s extreme lack of power and gruesome base-running skills limit the worth of his OBP. If his batting average and/or walk-rate start to slip, as one would expect with a player of his age, Aoki’s overall value quickly would become negative. That’s not what the Reds need at the top of their order, let alone inked for three-years.

Acquiring Aoki would represent a bare minimum approach to LF by the Reds. It would also mean putting value on the terrifying mix of empty on-base percentage (Willy Taveras, Ben Revere) and past-their-prime veteran status (Schumaker, Miguel Cairo).

Sadly, that would be an all-too-familiar and antiquated move for the Reds. Let’s hope Walt Jocketty can resist the temptation.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce’s 2010 homer and Homer Bailey’s 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

About The Author

Steve grew up in Cincinnati a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. Contemporary Reds thrills: witnessing Jay Bruce's 2010 homer and Homer Bailey's 2013 no-hitter in person. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 280 characters about the Reds is Redleg Nation, although you can follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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84 Responses

    • J.O. Looper

      you are right. Neither of the two named are right for the Reds. Rodriquez might be as good as either.

  1. Dale Pearl

    All the more reason to just throw Winker in there. And dont tell me it will hurt his development either. Ken Griffey skipped AAA as well as other that went on to great careers. Whoever is going in left is just a placeholder for Winker so might asw ell start his service clock now and ensure we have the NL rookie of the year in 2015

    • Ron Fulton

      Amen to that. First intelligent comment I have heard on the matter. This kid can hit and we may have another Trout or Harper.

    • tct

      Griffey Jr was also the most talented player of his generation. Saying that Winker could do it because Junior did it is like saying that Winker could be a good pitcher too because Babe Ruth was.

      Also, when Griffey came to the bigs, he had a lot of skills that Winker doesn’t. Griffey was a plus fielding center fielder with a pretty good arm. He wasn’t a big base stealer, but he could run, and he did steal some bases in his youth. He also had more raw power than Jesse. Junior did everything on a baseball field well, and added value in so many ways. Winker may not be a liability in left, but he’s not going to add value there or on the bases. He has to get all his value out of his bat. I’m not saying that Winker can’t do it right now, just that Griffey doing it is not proof that Jesse can. And it took Junior a few years before he became a MVP level hitter.

      • Dale Pearl

        Silly argument. How will you know if he is a Griffey type of not? His minor league numbers are better than Griffey’s. Show me one shred of evidence that a player can be hurt by skipping AAA level. Lots of players skip AAA. every scout that watches Winker says that his bat is MLB ready. and with BHam fast enough to cover all of the outfield then who even cares if He is a poor outfielder? What is Winker going to learn at AAA that he can’t learn at the Majors and on the fly? Truth is Reds have a player in the minors that probably would be better served waiting until 2016 to come up to the Pros. The truth is also there that Cueto the seond best pitcher in the national league won’t be with us in 2016. Truth is there is a solid chance that 4/5 of the starting pitching we have today won’t be there in 2016. If Winker can be good or there is even a 50/50 chance he can rake you put him in cold and let him play.

      • tct

        I know he’s not a Griffey type because he’s not a five tool centerfielder like Griffey was. Pretty simple.

        As.for your “facts” you seem to be implying that 2015 is an all in year for the reds, and may be their last chance for a few years. That is all the more reason to not depend on a rookie who hasn’t even had success in AA yet. Let me give you a fact: Reds outfielders, as a group, had the lowest WAR and the worst wRC+ in all of baseball last year. The worst outfield in all of baseball. And your plan is to hope that Bruce bounces back, hope that Hamilton’s awful second half was a fluke, and hope that Winker is ready to be an above average major league hitter? Those things aren’t impossible, but that is a lot of hope for an “all in” year.

        If Winker shows he is ready by June, then by all means, bring him up. But with the worst outfield in baseball last year, the reds can’t depend on that. They have to bring in some more talent.

      • greenmtred

        It seems to me that a key factor in whether or not Winker should skip AAA is the lack of good alternatives in left, whether via free-agency or trade. Griffey he likely isn’t, but he might well be better than anybody else the Reds could get, and won’t cost any players or big bucks.

      • charlottencredsfan

        Isn’t this point? How many guys are better than Griffey? We will be waiting on forever. As Greenmtn points out: if he is better than what we have and tears it up in ST, let Winker have his day.

        My fear is we get Aoki, Winker tears it up in ST but we will be stuck with Aoki through 2/3 of the season, at minimum, while a superior player wastes away at Louisville. This the Reds we are talking about and entitlement trumps talent when it comes down to it.

      • tct

        The point is that the reds had the worst outfield in baseball last year and one of the worst offenses. They had no depth and a horrible bench. They need to add talent. If they bring in a guy for a year or two, and Winker shows he’s ready by June and is the better player, then they can give Winker the job and make the new guy the 4th outfielder/ pinch hitter. But if they don’t bring anybody in and they bring Winker up and he’s not ready, what then? They Schumaker/ Heisey show? What if Bruce continues to struggle or gets injured? Wouldn’t it be nice to have another decent outfielder who could fill in?

        A problem with your question is that it is really hard to predict how good Winker will be. Prospects are hard enough to predict, and he hasnt had enough PA against upper level pitching to have a good handle on what he will do.

        I really like Jesse Winker as a prospect; more than Stephenson even. But his success in the AFL is not an excuse for the reds to do nothing to improve their offense. Think about it like this: even if Winker becomes Ted Williams this year, as some of you seem to think he will be, the reds still need a good 4th outfielder who could fill in for injury and be insurance for Winker and Bruce.

  2. Doug Gray

    If the team could land Aoki for 1 year, I’m in. Control him on the bases. If the team doesn’t give him the light, he isn’t going to bring you negative value there. This team needs OBP and I don’t care that he’s a slap hitter with no power. If the Reds are going to have success, Bruce is going to have to hit for power and Votto is going to have to be something closer to Votto and on the field. If those two things happen, the Reds don’t need someone else to hit for power, they will have the two lefties and then Frazier and Mesoraco hitting for plenty of power. They need base runners and Aoki gets on base. Put him in left next to Hamilton and the defense will be fine and he will make the offense better.

    For me, the thing with Aoki, or any outfielder brought in, is the number of years. The Reds have Waldrop, Winker and Rodriguez, and maybe Lutz if you buy into him being a part of the answer (maybe as a platoon guy or something), all in AA/AAA. They shouldn’t be giving out multiple year deals to non-big time players, and we know they can’t actually afford those guys. So get someone on a shorter deal.

    • Steve Mancuso

      A one-year deal makes it more palatable. But I still wish they would shoot higher. Aoki would barely make a ripple in the offense, even assuming he doesn’t fall off much in one season.

    • zblakey

      No way he signs for one year. More likely three, perhaps two, but he will have suitors willing to go two years. If I am wrong, and he will go for one year, then sign him up.
      Seems like WJ wants to do something sooner than later, to get Aoki for one year, you are probably going to have to wait until Feb `15.

  3. WVRedlegs

    If Winker handles AAA pitching the way he has AFL pitching, then a one year rental is what is needed. No way a 3 year or 2 year deal should go to Aoki from the Reds.
    I did read that Aoki was a 3 time batting champion in Japan, but as you illustrated, those days are in his past.
    I just haven’t been enamored with Aoki like some on here are. If Jocketty is more inclined to go the free agent route for a LF, wow, there just isn’t much out there.
    That makes Rios looks like a person of interest. And that makes my lunch come back up.

  4. lwblogger2

    Steve, I agree with you but I’m afraid the Reds’ front-office probably doesn’t. I have zero confidence in the front-office at the moment. Ownership has shown a willingness to want to win and has put their money where their mouths are. They’ve kept a baseball operations department that is way behind the curve though. I mean, you know that although I lean more on the analytics side than the conventional wisdom side, I still greatly value traditional baseball thinking. Yet, I still have little faith that the front-office will make the right moves this off-season. Their traditional thinking is behind the times as some of the conventional wisdom of baseball changes, and their small analytics staff would seem to be ignored when it comes to MLB operations. It’s a shame.

  5. droomac

    Had the Royals bottomed out in September, Aoki would probably be in line for a two, or even one, year deal. At three years, there is no way this would be a good idea for the Reds. Aoki also has this strange reverse platoon thing going on. It would be one thing if he were 25% better against RHPs, but he is better against LHPs. Given the majority of starters are righties (as well as all of the spot-on things Steve said) no thanks.

    Let’s face it folks, the only free agent targets that would actually solve the outfield problem are either too costly and require too many years (Yasmani Tomas and Cabrera) or simply not enough by themselves (Morse, Aoki, Rasmus) to solve the problem. To me, outside of a split the difference trade (giving up pitching that helps the Reds to win now in exchange for hitting that helps them win now), there aren’t too many options. I would be ok with Rasmus on a one-year deal, with the hope that he rebounds and warrants a QO after ’15.

    There is another intriguing player that some team will take a chance on. Maybe the Reds should take a look at Jung-ho Kang as a guy who can play some SS as well as some LF. It would probably cost $8-10 million for the posting, but the rumor is he would take a pretty reasonable deal, given he makes less than $1 million in Korea.

    If you are interested (turn the speakers off):
    http://youtu.be/TYp6zt627oA

    • droomac

      By the way, it probably speaks to my sense of desperation regarding the potential “fixes” for LF that I bring up the name of a guy who played in the KBO last year. He did mash last year, though.

      • sultanofswaff

        I like this guy. I think some of the power will translate because he’s fully mature at 27. We’d be getting whatever his peak is. Not a natural looking SS, but if the bat will play, he could be serviceable while Cozy becomes a late inning defensive replacement. I’ve said all along, SS should be the priority over LF because Winker will be kicking the door in. Heck, Kang could also shift to LF/3B/1B here and there. You can’t have enough positional flexibility.

      • droomac

        It appears he is on the Yankees radar as well. Some money estimates are actually even more affordable than I initially recall.

      • ROKland

        I absolutely think we should target this guy. One major thing the Reds lack is organizational depth, especially at Middle IF. To develop a player costs signing bonuses, years of instruction, overhead costs to the team. This player will come in without needing any of that investment. 20-30$ million down, and he’s ours for 5 years. If he hits anywhere near what he did in Korea (and those homeruns he hit are monsters, though none went opposite field) he would be worth way more than that.

        In baseball, the most important thing is talent acquisition. The Reds are struggling at that recently, while the Cards just keep on bringing in more talent from the minors. We have to start taking some chances on talent if we want to win, rather than signing retreads and hoping they don’t decline too much.

        If we sign Aoki, that money is mostly wasted the second he signs on the line. No improvement, no value. One year and he’s obsolete. Would you pay $16-$22 million for one year of Aoki. If you do your team will continue to deteriorate as you don’t acquire talent, you acquire costs that prevent you from getting other talent.

  6. lwblogger2

    If the Reds are really, really thinking about Aoki, then why not try to get someone in here on a one-year deal. Torii Hunter has talked about retirement but maybe he could be talked into one more year. He could give you perhaps 120-130 starts out on LF, where his declining defense should be less of an issue than in Detroit’s spacious RF. His hitting declined in 2014 but is still pretty good. He still has some power, even if his BB% went way down in 2014. I mean, honestly, I’d rather see him or even Rios out there on a one-year deal than Aoki on a 3-year contract.

  7. Steve Mancuso

    Jon Heyman just published a post where a player’s agent, a GM and Heyman all estimate what they think the top 50 free agents will sign for. Interesting to see the differences. Here’s what they say about Aoki:

    36. Norichika Aoki, OF: Nice offensive sparkplug also makes the plays in the outfield (though he was clearly the Royals’ third-best defensive outfielder in their great alignment). He served KC well in his one season there after being traded by the Brewers. Looking for three years. Agent: 2 years, $15M. GM: 1 year, $7.5M. Me: 2 years, $14M.

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/writer/jon-heyman/24795422/mlb-free-agency-top-50-where-they-may-sign-and-what-they-will-get

    • ToddAlmighty

      Read that and if the Reds are really wanting to go for it in 2015 and let all the SP hit FA in 2016, I would try to get Stephen Drew on a 1 year deal. The Agent in that article listed Drew at 1yr/$7.25m.

      I really think they need a major league caliber player who can be a starter if called on to do so. Between a sub-par and continuing to decline BP and a ridiculously sub-par Cozart, if they both struggle again next year, they need someone in place so they can ride the pine and not derail the Reds season. Can only keep giving large sums of starts to so many bad offensive players.

      Drew was terrible in 2014, but hit .253 /.333 /.443 in 2013 with 3.1 WAR, which is close to his .256 /.322 /.425 career numbers and I don’t think anyone loses .240 OPS in one season just from aging. If he can be had for one year, I think they should take that chance. He plays SS and has played 2B.

  8. droomac

    Evidently, the new 3B coach is Riggleman.

    • WVRedlegs

      That is some minor good news.
      And Barry Larkin is going to get an interview to be the Rays manager.

    • Thegaffer

      I have no problem with that, why do you need LF defense with Cozart abd BHam, and heck Frazier.

  9. sultanofswaff

    Morse and Aoki are both bad moves given that Winker/YRod/Waldrop are waiting in the wings. Anything more than a one year deal would be silly. To that end, I’d look at 3 guys:
    Torii Hunter, free agent
    Matt Joyce–final year of arb, Tampa looking to move him.
    Carlos Quentin. Injury risk, but has always hit when healthy. Padres need prospects.

    • lwblogger2

      If Hunter doesn’t retire, I’d look at him (see my comment above). I like Matt Joyce was well. No thanks on Quentin. Not because I don’t think he can play, although his defense is wretched. No, I say “no” to Quentin is that as a person, he’s a world-class *content censored by poster to remain within Terms of Use*, on the scale of Pierzynski.

    • redsfan06

      What about Ben Zobrist? He will be signed for one year at $7.5 million if Tampa exorcises their option.

  10. Art Wayne Austin

    After Bruce’s descent from a 5 tool star to a strike-out king, let’s not build Winker up too much. Let him be a prospect first like Frank Robinson and Ken Griffey.

    • Doug Gray

      Oh come on Wayne, Bruce has been an above-average player every year of his career except for last season, which had big extenuating circumstances.

      Bruce and Winker are very different in terms of how they were prospects. Bruce had a 2.5 to 1 K/BB for the most part as a prospect. His calling cards were big time power and defense mixed with a good hit tool. Winker has nearly a 1:1 K/BB ratio, not as much power and a very good hit tool. He doesn’t play up the middle defense, he doesn’t have a big arm like Bruce.

      As hitters, they are pretty far apart as prospects. Winker is far more ready to step in and hit big league pitching than Bruce was.

      • lwblogger2

        Agree completely Doug. I don’t know if Winkler is ready yet but I think he may be ready some time in 2015, with 2016 being more likely; assuming he’s healthy that is. There’s always been a lot of folks out there who can’t stand Bruce and it’s just gotten worse after his horrible 2014. I don’t get it. From a metrics standpoint or a traditional standpoint he’s an above average outfielder. Honestly, up until 2014, the only knocks one could really have on the guy is he’s streaky and strikes out a lot. For a power hitter however, neither of those traits are that unusual. He’s never been a world beater as far as batting average but do people understand that NL batting average is now under .250? Are they just angry at him because he’s never become the .300 hitting, 40+HR having, 100+ RBI every season player? I really am trying to understand why there’s so much animosity for a guy that is as likeable as they come.

      • redmountain

        And perhaps still is. After this amount of time I would expect Bruce to closer to 300 than 200, bad knee or not. Even when healthy, he cant hit 275.

      • Captain Hook

        Only 16 qualifying major leagues hit .300 or better last year. If you are going to stick with batting average as your tell-all stat I would suggest recognizing that hitting is down across baseball.

  11. WVRedlegs

    Michael Cuddyer signs with the Mets. That is a surprise after the Rox made a QO to him. He turned down the Qo. The Mets will have to forfiet their #15 first round pick.
    Now its getting interesting.

    • wvredlegs

      Cuddyer turns down a 1 yr./$15.3M for a 2 yr./$21M offer from the Mets. He gets $8.5M for next year and $12.5 in 2016. He chooses to make almost 1/2 of what he would have in Colorado for 2015.
      Strange.

      • lwblogger2

        Could be lots of factors, not the least of which being that it is $5.7-million more in guaranteed money. Cuddyer has had some injury issues and maybe he just wants that extra security of that 2nd year? I don’t know. I was almost certain he’d take the qualifying offer.

  12. Matt WI

    The multi-year contract offer would be another example of poor long term planning that has repeatedly bitten this team. Conceptually, I love the idea of someone being a pesky out to get on this team, but not at that price for those years. Agree with the one year deal and review the landscape after that— they may have traded Cueto/Latos at that point for someone who would otherwise be an upgrade beyond Aoki.

  13. sezwhom

    I’ll take Morse. Watched him all year in SF. Defensive liabilities aside, he’s fun to watch hit and came through in clutch situations. Has a swing like Jack Clark. fan favorite and team guy.

    • Thegaffer

      Agree, we need a RH hitter so bad it is fine. You can always do a defense replacement with Heisey.

  14. ToddAlmighty

    This article all but guarantees it… go ahead and write him down for a 2 year contract with a high dollar team option for a third.

  15. RedAlert

    Have no confidence whatsoever that Jocketty will get anything accomplished this offseason – get ready for : “Well , we just didn’t see anything that would be a fit ” – standard quote for 2 years now

  16. BigRedMike

    Is there much difference between Aoki and Skip?

    2 or 3 years for Aoki seems like a bad idea, one year is good

    • tct

      Agree completely on your second sentence. But, as to the first, well, yes there is a pretty big difference between Aoki and Skip. About 60 points of OBP last year and projected to be a 40 point OBP difference this year. Aoki was only worth a little over a win last year, although his value was dragged down by a horrible baserunnuing number that could be improved by just reigning him in on the bases. Skip was worth -1.3 WAR last year. Skip is below replacement level and the reds just can’t be giving playing time to sub replacement level guys. Aoki on 3 years is obviously a bad idea. But a one or two year deal with Aoki or someone similar, could work, as long as the reds are willing to move that guy to the fourth outfielder role if one of the prospects is ready and projects to be better.

  17. charlottencredsfan

    Billy Hamilton finished second to Jacob deGrom in the ROY vote, 26 first-place votes to 4. Not even close. BHam’s second half unraveling made it possible.

  18. redmountain

    Another wild card in this is that there are number of OF prospects coming along. Lets remember that Ervin might have been playing in AA or AAA by the end of this past year had he not injured his wrist. If his wrist is good, he could also be ready next year. Elizade is another who could come fast so I personally think signing anyone for more than one year is not a good idea, unless he is someone who gets on base like Choo.

    • tct

      If the reds have a chance to get a good deal on a good young player, or even better, have a chance to get a young guy in a trade that has a few years of team control, I don’t think they should worry about blocking prospects. The reds will be doing really well if just two or three of their current outfield prospects turn into decent major leaguers. I am a big believer in building a strong farm, but you have to be realistic about the success rates of prospects. Wrist injury or no, Ervin was horrible in A ball this year as a 22 year old and Elizade is a long shot to ever get more than a cup of coffee in the majors.

      But even if they all work out, that is not a bad thing as too many outfielders is not really a problem. There are 90 starting outfield jobs in the majors, and 60 more backup outfield jobs. Outfielders who can hit are always in demand, and the reds could always trade one or two if they have too many.

  19. jessecuster44

    No to Aoki and Morse. Shoot for higher. Make a trade, give something to get something. Either see what all this pitching talent in the minors is, or trade it away for hitting talent.

  20. bhrubin1

    I think I agree with Doug. If it’s a one year deal, I actually like Aoki. The Reds have three power bats in Frazier, Bruce and Mes to fill out the middle of the order. What they need is guys who can get on base consistently ahead of those guys. I think Aoki’s strengths are the things this team needs, and his weaknesses are things this team can cover. Having two big OBP guys in front of those bats, in Aoki and Votto, really changes the look of this lineup. If we can consistently get to the power part of the lineup with at least one guy on and at most one out, which we ought to be able to do frequently with those two, then it gives those other guys much more flexibility to try and put one over the wall, or at least in the gap…and it increases the run value when they do.

    As for stolen bases, he’s not going to try a lot with Votto behind him. Remember, Pete Rose stole 0 bases from the leadoff spot in 1975. And his speed WILL play well on going first to third and breaking up double plays with a slow Votto behind him. Then, if Hamilton ever develops the on base skills many of us, including myself, think he eventually will, then he goes back to one and everybody slots down one. That’s a pretty solid lineup.

    And Aoki’s defense in left is mitigated by the fact that Cincy’s outfield is small, and more importantly by the fact that he is literally surrounded by elite defenders at all three adjacent positions (CF, SS, 3B) who can pick up the slack.

    All that being said, it’s got to be a one year deal to be a very good one. With the aging curve and the minor league OFers coming up, if we’re going to offer a second year, it should be either a team option or something with a minimal buyout, otherwise it’s too much risk to be a very good deal. But even if it’s a slight overpay on the second year, I don’t hate it. Even if he ends up slotting as the 4th or 5th OF with Heisey in 2016, he’s unlikely to be a liability.

    He’s not Shin Soo Choo, but then again, Shin Soo Choo isn’t Shin Soo Choo anymore. For the Reds options, and their needs, and their price range, I honestly don’t hate this idea.

  21. Norwood Nate

    I am under the impression we should call Seattle to see what it takes to acquire Taylor and Saunders. Seattle seems to want to move on from Saunders and Taylor is blocked by Miller. I’m sure we could work something out that would be mutually beneficial.

  22. RedsfanPa

    Antiquated, recipe for failure….precisely why Walt will probably do it. Overpaying for more aging veterans with declining skills … ugh. Please think this through Walt……..and just say No

  23. dradg

    I think I am with you here. But… I think I’d prefer a team-friendly, incentive-laden FA contract for Aoki over the alternative of trading one of Latos, Leake or Cueto for a one year rental. Disclaimer: I’m entrenched in the camp that thinks Walt should keep the rotation together unless a blockbuster trade proposal crosses his desk.

    • ohiojimw

      I tend to agree with you. I would ride Cueto as far as he can take them and settle for the draft pick. I would hope to eventually retain Leake long term. As soon as Latos reestablishes credibility and value (assuming he does), I would look to move him for what he would bring as I think his elbow could well be a ticking time bomb.

      Of course if a real sea changing block buster could be made, why not; and if they fall out of playoff contention early like this year, that changes things too.

      As an alternate point of view, the Cuddyer contract isn’t automatically a bad deal for the Mets. But there are a lot of “ifs” involved. If he stays healthy, if their young guy comes along by the end of the year, and if they could find the right trading partner after 2015, the back load on the second year could get them out in good shape (but they might have to kick in on the second year salary).

      • ohiojimw

        Meant to add, the Reds might take a similar risk on Aoki but it would make me nervous.

  24. jaekaetee

    Forget Aoki. I would trade B.Ham for bullpen help and sign 28 yr old Colby Rasmus for CF and play Yorman in LF.

    • JoeyNotVotto

      Thank God you’re not in charge then.

  25. ohiojimw

    So, I wonder what if any input Bryan Price had in the selection of Jim Riggleman as 3B coach as JR would look to be an interim manager in waiting should the services of such a person be desired by the ownership/ front office.

    • preacherj

      Yeah, I thought about the same thing. He would kind of be a “special assistant” type of coach…..probably similar to the way Walt Jocketty was a “special assistant” type for the GM when he was hired.

      • ohiojimw

        And as if Jay Bell doesn’t already wear the “prince in waiting” crown pretty well.

    • JT

      i would guess price has little to zero input as to who is on the coaching staff. remember, walt fired dusty for refusing to fire his hitting coach. so i would imagine walt hired price with the understanding that he (walt) would have considerable input as to who is hired/fired on the coaching staff. not to mention this is the first time price that has managed.

  26. Chris Miller

    Great article Steve. I hope so much this guy isn’t signed. Based on age alone, I’d take Heisey over Aoki, and that in no way suggests I’m happy with Heisey.

  27. andrewpky

    Does anyone have numbers on the effect the ballpark had on Aoki’s hitting? I mean, he DID move from playing 81 games at very homer happy Milwaukee to 81 games at Kauffman, which was very pitcher friendly. Also, would his groundball ratio and stolen base information change due to a change in managerial philosophy? the Royals had an old-school way of scoring runs (i.e. make contact and RUN LIKE CRAZY!).

  28. PDUNC

    If the Reds are to go the free-agent route, the 2 I think would be fits are Morse and Bonifcio. Going by the guidelines in the “getting the offseason right” series, Morse fits the OBP and ISO requirements for a left-fielder. As an added bonus, he has played a little bit of 1B in his career and could back up Votto there. Position flexibility is a valuable skill over a 162 season, which leads me to Bonifacio. He has played every defensive position on field outside pitcher, catcher, and 1B and he can’t be worse offensively than the bench we had last year. If they will sign at anything close to the projections in this ESPN article, I think these would be good signings.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/11852110/predicting-contracts-top-50-free-agents-mlb-hot-stove-2014

    • JoshG

      The Reds already have Bonifacio, his name is Negron.
      and he is a lot cheaper.

      • JoshG

        that said, I wouldn’t mind both Negron and Bonifacio on the bench together

        Penya, Negron, Bonifacio, Schumaker, and Heisey

        but I think I’d rather see them get someone with a little more pop for the bench

  29. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Several things to consider here, though. First, if we plug him in the 1-2 holes, few teams look for their 1-2 hole hitters to have any kind of power. So, I have no problem with his drop in power. Second, we are only looking for a player for a couple of years only, until Winker and/or Waldrop, or someone else, is ready to move up. So, Aoki wouldn’t be seen nor looked at any kind of longterm fix, only a filler. Third, what about how much money? If he quotes us $25 million per, no way. But, if we quotes us the league minimum, I think we hook up to that right away.

    That said, what we can also do is compare what we had last season out there. At least with Ludwick, I believe Fangraphs had Ludwick at a total -9.3 off/def WAR. Aoki, about a positive 1.7 off/def WAR. I believe he would definitely be better than who we were paying last season.

    I can understand the age thing. But, remember, we aren’t looking to hold onto this guy for 8-12 years. We are only looking for a max of 3 years, very possibly fewer than that. Not saying I would pull this trigger. But, it’s not out of the picture.

    I can’t help thinking I would be more concerned with where I put him in the lineup. Do we have Votto in the 3 hole then? Will Aoki leadoff, with Hamilton in the 2 hole? Vice versa? Something else?

    Definitely not an ideal candidate. However, how many ideal candidates are ever found? So, a term I will use, a “serviceable” candidate? I would have to say so.

    But, what will the actual contract be? We can approximate. But, even if we do that, we could just be a million off, and he could sign somewhere else.

  30. bengalmaniac

    I think you need to work LF from within. All this talk about a “bat”…that is why they shelled out $250mil for Votto. If Votto & Bruce can come in healthy and stay healthy, then those bats
    added to BPhil, Hammy, Frazier, & Devo is a nice lineup of “bats”. Pitching wins championships, you need to shore up Cueto, Leake, Simon & Chapman. Jury is still out on Latos, have to see if he can stay healthy. Unfortunate for Reds fans, we had a ton of payroll going out the door to the disabled list. If the Reds were smart, they would have done Votto & Bailey’s contracts with performance-based escalators, like the Bengals did with Dalton.

    • Steve Mancuso

      >>If the Reds were smart, they would have done Votto & Bailey’s contracts with performance-based escalators, like the Bengals did with Dalton.

      Not analogous. Baseball contracts are guaranteed based on the collective bargaining agreement, but the guaranteed parts of football contracts are negotiated. That’s because the players’ union has been stronger in baseball than in football. It has nothing to do with “if the Reds were smart.” If the Reds hadn’t promised that money to Votto and Bailey, they’d have walked to free agency. It’s reasonable to say the Reds should have let one or both of them walk, but the kind of contract you suggest wasn’t an option.

  31. JoshG

    The Reds neeeeeed runners on base, and Aoki is the best free agent outfielder at that particular job. I don’t care if he is a slap hitter.
    I would be thrilled to get Aoki on a 2 yr deal, but not for 3
    and for the record I agree with Steve Schoenbaechler his power dropoff was at least in part a park effect thing, along with an approach tweak, to do what his team (Royals) asked of him. I would pencil him in for 10+ HR’s hitting 2nd ahead of Votto, Fazier, Mez, Bruce everyday In Great American.

  32. Jim

    If Tori Hunter would accept a 1 year deal he might be a good fit and not be in the way of Winker in 2016. Still think a trade will happen with the pitching staff, either Chapman , Simon, Latos or Leake for bullpen,SS or Left Field. Not sure if you would call this a rebuild or not but the Roster definitely needs to be shuffled for next year.

    • lwblogger2

      I’ve thought the same thing. There have been some rumblings that he’s considering retirement though. He also made $14-million last year so may be beyond the Reds’ budget.

    • Jeff Castner

      Even if we gave Hunter a two year deal, who better to tutor Winker for a year? Tori is great in the clubhouse too. I vote Hunter.
      RedsnAngels

  33. Jeff Castner

    And I vote Bonifacio. I’ve seen him play and he would inject enthusiasm and hustle to a rather lackluster team. He might even get Votto to care.