Blue Jays: Aoki + is a great get for a rental Liriano
The Blue Jays swung a deal with the Astros to send Francisco Liriano to their bullpen, in exchange for Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez.
Chalk this up as a win for the Blue Jays if and when it all gets officially confirmed. The Jays have reportedly agreed to a deal to send Francisco Liriano to the Astros in exchange for Nori Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez, a solid MiLB prospect. Brian McTaggart was the first to report that Aoki was coming back to the Blue Jays.
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Liriano is in the final year of his current contract, and thus would be a free agent at the end of the season. With the Blue Jays sitting the basement of the AL East, it only stands to reason that they would shop someone like him and see what they could get in return. It turns out they were able to acquire a useful piece that could help them this year, and again in 2018.
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Aoki is making 5.5 million this year, and according to spotrac.com, has one year left of arbitration eligibility before becoming a free agent in 2019. He’s no spring chicken at 35 years old, but he came over to the MLB later on in his career, so that’s why his contract status is in that state, nearer to the end of his career. The Astros have a lot of depth in the outfield, so his presence was more of a luxury than a necessity.
Aoki is the type of hitter that could slot into the leadoff spot, something the Blue Jays could greatly use. His slash line of .272/.323/.371 this year is reasonable, and his career line looks even better at .285/.350/.385. His acquisition also helped offset some of the salary difference in the deal with Liriano, so both teams benefit a bit from the deal.
The trade could also mean the Blue Jays have other trade irons in the fire in the final hours before the non-waiver deadline. Jose Bautista has a creative contract that will likely see him as a free agent at the end of the year, so he could be moved if he’ll waive his 10-5 trade rights. Steve Pearce is the most popular man in Canada right now as the left fielder and grand slam specialist, but he’s also a potential target. If either player is moved, Aoki would be the obvious replacement in the outfield.
The move is certainly a creative one from the Blue Jays’ front office, as they’ve managed to get a piece that could help them next season, while only sacrificing an expiring asset. Aoki isn’t a flashy player, but his skill set should fit in well with the Blue Jays who could greatly benefit from an OBP type like the left-handed hitting veteran.
Keep your eyes and ears peeled here for the rest of the day as we do our best to keep up with any breaking Blue Jays’ news.