Brewers win exclusive negotiating rights for Norichika Aoki with $2.5 million posting fee

11 Comments

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.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
Leave a comment

I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp were staked to a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they had only played five innings of baseball. UPDATE: they played a full game today, the BayStars won, so now it’s 2-1 Hiroshima.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?