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.

 

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.