Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki to be posted

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Jon Heyman reports that Norichika Aoki, an outfielder for the Yakult Swallows, will be posted and made available for the majors.

Aoki is almost 30.  He hits for average — cracked 20 homers once, but usually hovers around 15 — who turns 30 in January. He has a .329 lifetime batting average and has won the Central League batting crown thrice.

I know it’s lame to compare Japanese players to other Japanese players just because they’re Japanese, but Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s rep was being a solid contact hitter too and that has worked out fairly poorly thus far. So it’s probably not a good thing to get crazy-excited about Aoki, even if he might fit in nicely on several clubs.

Cubs sign sinkerballer Steve Cishek

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Cubs have signed reliever Steve Cishek. No details about the deal are known yet. For what it’s worth, most relievers are signing two-year deals so far this winter and Cishek’s last deal was a two-year pact.

Cishek, 31-year-old sidearmer who throws a surprisingly fast sinkerball, posted a 2.01 ERA and a 41/14 K/BB ratio and allowed just 26 hits in 44.2 innings between the Mariners and Rays last season. He saved 25 games for the M’s in 2016. Last year he missed the first month and a half of the season following hip surgery, but seemed pretty healthy later in the year.

A nice pickup for Chicago.