Smith, 24, has experience as both a starter and a reliever in the majors. Last season, he appeared in only 19 games for the Royals (one start), going 2-1 with a 3.24 ERA. He spent most of the year in Triple-A Omaha where he appeared in 28 games (10 starts) and boasted a 3.03 ERA. In 2012, Smith made 16 starts for Kansas City and ended up with a 6-9 record while posting a 5.32 ERA.
Aoki followed up his surprising rookie season in 2012 with another productive season in 2013. The 31-year-old hit .286 with eight home runs and 37 RBI, but with the emergence of Khris Davis in 2013, the outfield was becoming crowded.
The departure of Aoki leaves a void in the leadoff spot. Melvin said that early candidates to replace Aoki are Scooter Gennett and Jean Segura but neither are great OBP players.
Trading Aoki, who will be a free agent after the 2014 season, will allow Ryan Braun to move to right field while Davis will take his place in left. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin plans to call Braun to make sure he is on board with the position shift.
Adding Smith also gives the Brewers a much needed left-handed pitcher who can start or relieve. Along with a low 90’s fastball, Smith also throws a slider, curve and changeup. Melvin told Smith that he will come to spring training as a starter.
A big factor in this trade is that Milwaukee will control Smith for the next five years, while Aoki would’ve been free to leave after the season.