Milwaukee secured exclusive negotiating rights to Norichika Aoki with a $2.5 million bid, but before talking contract with the Japanese outfielder they wanted to get a first-hand look at him.
According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that will happen this weekend in Arizona, where the Brewers will put Aoki through what general manager Doug Melvin called “a private workout.”
Presumably the Brewers scouted Aoki in Japan on a regular basis before submitting a $2.5 million bid for his negotiating rights and there’s only so much that can be learned from putting a player through some drills in person, but it’s surprising that teams haven’t requested similar workouts before signing Japanese players in the past.
Last offseason, for instance, the Twins committed $15 million to signing Tsuyoshi Nishioka and then within 48 hours of him showing up at spring training they were talking publicly about his lack of arm strength and unfamiliarity with some key aspects of middle infield defense.
Ryan Braun’s looming 50-game suspension could make the Brewers more motivated to sign Aoki, who’s a three-time batting champion in Japan and projects as a high-average, low-power hitter. He’s primarily been a center fielder in Japan, but would be an option to fill in for Braun in left field.