AP Sources: Seattle reaches agreement on deal with Nori Aoki
SEATTLE (AP) The Seattle Mariners' ongoing roster makeover now includes outfielder Nori Aoki.
The Mariners and the free agent outfielder have reached agreement on a contract for the 2016 season pending a physical, according to two people with knowledge of the deal. They spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on the condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
The (Tacoma) News Tribune and CBS Sports first reported Aoki's agreement.
The agreement was part of a busy day for the Mariners and new general manager Jerry Dipoto, but was pending a physical that will be closely watched after an injury-filled 2015 season for Aoki in San Francisco.
The Mariners also announced the signing of right-handed reliever Justin De Fratus to a one-year deal and completed the trade of Mark Trumbo and pitcher C.J. Riefenhauser to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for catcher Steve Clevenger.
Aoki was limited to 93 games due to a broken right leg and a severe concussion in the second half of the season. San Francisco, which turned down a $5.5 million option on Aoki last month, said Aoki was healthy and the injuries did not play a role in the decision to decline the option.
Aoki was placed on the seven-day concussion list in mid-August. He was hit in the head by a pitch from NL Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta and after sitting out three days, ran into the wall while making a catch when he returned. The Giants announced in early September that Aoki was suffering from post-concussion symptoms and he did not play after Sept. 3.
When healthy, Aoki's athleticism and flexibility fits what Seattle is seeking under Dipoto. Aoki is a career .287 hitter, with a .353 on-base percentage in his four seasons since coming from Japan. He also has a low strikeout rate and defensively has played all three outfield positions, although Aoki is primarily a corner outfielder.
Seattle will be Aoki's fourth major league team after he started his career in Milwaukee and spent one season each with Kansas City and San Francisco.
Trumbo was acquired last June in a trade with Arizona, but didn't fit into Seattle's plans. Riefenhauser was barely a member of the Mariners, having been acquired in a six-player trade with Tampa Bay last month. It was the second time Dipoto has traded Trumbo, previously doing so when Dipoto was the general manager with the Angels.
''It was not an ideal fit for us on our roster and this gave us the opportunity to create flexibility,'' Dipoto said.
The trade of Trumbo leaves first base as a major question for Seattle with the winter meetings approaching. Dipoto said Jesus Montero would likely be the first option as of now, but that position is a priority.
De Fratus spent his entire career with Philadelphia and exclusively as a reliever. De Fratus had an excellent 2014, going 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA in 54 appearances, but struggled in 2015. De Fratus was 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in 61 appearances last season for the Phillies. Dipoto said De Fratus is another experienced arm to add to the depth of Seattle's bullpen.
De Fratus will make $750,000 with another $50,000 available in performance bonuses: $15,000 each for 30 and 40 games, and $20,000 for 50 games.
The acquisition of Clevenger gives Seattle the option of keeping former first-round pick Mike Zunino in the minors to continue working on his swing. Seattle already signed Chris Iannetta as a free agent with the intent of making him the starting catcher. Clevenger appeared in just 30 games last season for the Orioles but hit .287, had 15 RBIs and struck out just 13 times.
Clevenger, a left-handed hitter, can also play first base and be an option as a designated hitter.
''Heading into the winter meetings we have a lot less to do than we did at the start of the offseason,'' Dipoto said.