Milwaukee placed the high bid for exclusive negotiating rights to Norichika Aoki and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Brewers plan to work out the Japanese center fielder before deciding what type of contract to offer him.
Evaluating a player in person, on your terms, seems like an obvious thing for teams to do before investing millions in someone, but in the past that typically hasn’t been the case with Japanese imports.
For instance, last offseason the Twins bid $5 million for Tsuyoshi Nishioka and then signed him to a three-year, $9 million deal, only to realize almost immediately once he arrived at spring training that he didn’t have the arm to play shortstop well and didn’t know how to properly turn double plays as a second baseman.
If the Brewers aren’t impressed by Aoki’s workout and end up not signing him during the 30-day negotiating window their $2.5 million bid would be refunded. He lacks power, but the speedy 30-year-old is a career .329 hitter and three-time batting champion in Japan.
Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.
The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.
Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.
As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:
Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.
Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.
Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.