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. Aoki becomes the sixth major move — either free-agent signings or trades — by new general manager Jerry Dipoto in the past month. But the deal is pending a physical that will be closely watched after an injury-filled 2015 season for Aoki in San Francisco.
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 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.