As first reported by MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, the Brewers exercised a $1.5 million club option for 2014 Tuesday on starting right fielder Norichika Aoki.
Option decisions typically wait until after the World Series, but this one was such a no-brainer that the Milwaukee front office went ahead and pulled the early trigger. Aoki had a down year offensively in 2013 compared to his exceptional rookie campaign in 2012, but he was still a 1.7 fWAR player and worth $8.7 million by FanGraphs’ valuations.
Aoki has batted .287/.355/.399 with 18 home runs and 50 stolen bases in 306 games since leaving NPB’s Yakult Swallows for the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the start of the 2012 major league season.
The 31-year-old from Hyuga, Japan is set to become a free agent next winter.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.