Brewers exercise $1.5 million option on Norichika Aoki

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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.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.