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.
Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.
McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).
McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.