UPDATE, 7:45 PM: The Brewers had the $2.5 million winning bid, according to Yanagita, and now have 30 days to work out a major league contract.
8:51 AM: Yasuko Yanagita of Japanese newspaper Hochi Shimbun and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports are both hearing that the Yakult Swallows have accepted a $2.5 million posting fee for outfielder Norichika Aoki.
It is not known which MLB team made the winning bid, but once it is officially announced, they will be given an exclusive 30-day negotiating window to work out a contract.
Aoki, who turns 30 next month, has a .329 batting average over eight seasons in Japan and is a three-time Central League batting champion. However, the speedy center fielder batted a career-low .292 and hit just four home runs this past season in what was a down year for offense in Nippon Professional Baseball.
We’ll have to wait to find out the identity of the winning team, but Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported last week that the Nationals could target Aoki as an alternative for center field after failing to land B.J. Upton or Denard Span in potential trades.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.