Norichika Aoki took a big pay cut to leave Japan for Brewers

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For most Japanese players coming to America the amount a team bids to secure their exclusive negotiating rights through the posting process ends up being similar to the amount they sign for during the 30-day window.

For instance, the Rangers bid $51.7 million for Yu Darvish and then signed him to a six-year, $60 million deal yesterday.

Norichika Aoki’s situation played out similarly, as the Brewers bid $2.5 million to secure the 30-year-old outfielder’s rights and then inked him to a two-year deal worth $2.25 million plus incentives.

According to the Associated Press he’s taking a big pay cut to play in the majors, as Aoki earned $4.2 million in Japan last season. Milwaukee will pay him $1 million this season and $1.25 million in 2013, with a team option for 2014. If the option is picked up and he reaches every possible incentives, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Aoki would get $8.6 million for three years.

In other words he’s being paid like a bench player, which is the role Aoki will likely fill once the Brewers are at full strength in the outfield. However, if Ryan Braun ends up serving his 50-game suspension Aoki will get a chance to play regularly as his replacement in left field.

 

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).