The Giants settled their search for another outfielder – and likely rounded out their 2015 lineup – Friday, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal with former Kansas City Royal Nori Aoki.
Though the Giants have not announced the deal, a source said terms include a club option for 2016 that can vest into a mutual option. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Aoki will earn $4 million in 2015, and the club option is for $5.5 million with a $700,000 buyout.
The Giants were looking for a right-handed hitter to platoon in left field with Gregor Blanco, somewhat as Michael Morse did for part of last season. Aoki, 33, hits left-handed and is not the power threat that Morse was. Aoki batted .285 last season with just one home run and has 19 homers in his three major-league seasons.
However, Aoki has hit left-handed pitchers better (.319) than right-handers (.273), and he has a .285 career average and .353 on-base percentage as a leadoff hitter. Blanco has struggled in recent seasons when pressed into the leadoff spot because of injuries to Angel Pagan.
Aoki also was the toughest player to strike out in the National League when he played for Milwaukee in 2013 – one strikeout per 14.9 at-bats – and has nearly as many walks (141) as strikeouts (144) in his career.
Most of Aoki’s starts since he debuted in the majors in 2012 have come in right field. But he has played center and left and made only eight errors in three seasons since coming from Japan.