MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reported earlier Monday that prior information about Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki’s contract was, in
It was previously reported by a club official that Aoki had a $1.5 million club option for 2014, which, given the reasonable price doubled with valuable production, the team surely would have picked up. Then, he would remain Brewers property through 2017.
McCalvy reported that all of this was actually wrong. The club doesn’t control the 31-year-old right fielder for six years due to previously unnoted contract language.
“Aoki will be a free agent when his current contract expires after this season or next,” writes McCalvy.
“It includes language stipulating Aoki will be an untethered free agent at the end of his current deal, whether or not the Brewers exercise their option.”
This news suddenly thrusts Aoki into the Brewers already extensive trade deadline talks. GM Doug Melvin had already fielded calls regarding the availability of John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez, specifically, among other relievers.
Previously, Aoki seemed a relatively safe bet to remain a Brewer past the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline given his team-friendly club option and production (.284/.362/.371, 4 homers, 43 runs, 9 steals, 105 wRC+); given this update on his contract, however, he seems to be a likely trading chip at the deadline.
McCalvy also reported that Aoki is, at most, a year and a half away from free agency. It could either be this winter or next, but the team–not appearing to compete either this season or even next–could ship him off for a nice return.
In a sudden turn of events, Aoki may become one of the biggest names involved in the mix at the trade deadline. Stay tuned and thank Gord Ash for double checking the language of the contract before the club got blindsided this off-season.