Nori Aoki and Mariners finalize $5.5 million deal
SEATTLE (AP) The Mariners kept up their offseason makeover on Thursday by finalizing a $5.5 million, one-year contract with free agent outfielder Nori Aoki, a deal that includes a $6 million conditional option for the 2017 season.
Seattle announced completion of the deal after Aoki passed an extensive physical. The sides had agreed on a contract pending the exams, which took place Thursday morning. The physical was closely watched after an injury-filled 2015 season for Aoki in San Francisco.
He was limited to 93 games due to a broken right leg and a severe concussion in the second half of last season. San Francisco, which turned down a $5.5 million option on Aoki last month, said Aoki was healthy and that the injuries did not play a role in the decision to decline the option.
''Adding Nori addresses our desire to be more athletic in the outfield, as well as more contact oriented in the batter's box,'' Seattle general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. ''His consistency, versatility and energetic style of play will fit us very well.''
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 Award 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 fit 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. Aoki becomes the ninth Japanese-born player to play for the Mariners.
Aoki can exercise his 2017 option if he has 480 or plate appearances and does not finish the season on the disabled list because of a concussions or concussion-related issues. If he has 480 or more plate appearances but does end the season on the DL due to concussion issues, the Mariners have a $6 million option, and they would pay a $500,000 buyout if they decline it.
Aoki can make another $1.5 million annually in performance bonuses based on plate appearances: $100,000 each for 400, 425, 450, 475 and 500, and $250,000 apiece for 525, 550, 575 and 600.