Giants sign free agent outfielder Norichika Aoki to a one-year contract

Deal includes club option that can vest into a mutual option

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - The San Francisco Giants have signed free agent outfielder Norichika Aoki (pronounced: nor-EETCH-kuh ah-OH-key) to a one-year contract with a club option, club Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian Sabean announced today. Per club policy, financial terms were not disclosed.


Aoki, who just turned 33 years old on January 5, batted .285 (140x491) with 63 runs scored, 22 doubles, six triples, one home run and 43 RBI while going 17-for-25 in stolen base attempts in 132 games for the American League champion Kansas City Royals last season. He started four of the seven World Series games in right field for the Royals.


The 5-foot-9, 182-pound outfielder has had consistent batting averages and on-base percentages in his three Major League seasons, batting .288, .286 and .285, with OBPs of .355, .356 and .349. He ranked fifth in the Majors (third in the A.L.) with a .363 batting average (45x124) against left-handed pitching during the 2014 season, and in his three seasons in the big leagues, his .319 average against southpaws is 19th in the Majors.


Aoki was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the 2012 season after playing eight seasons with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League (2004-11). He finished fifth in National League Rookie of the Year voting, after hitting .288 with 10 home runs, 50 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 151 games with the Brewers. His 101 infield hits in his MLB career are most in the Majors since the start of 2012.


Aoki hit .329 with 84 home runs, 385 RBI and 164 stolen bases during his career in Japan. He won the Central League's batting championship three times: 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358), and hit over .300 in seven of his eight seasons in the league. Aoki was a seven-time recipient of the Best Nine Award (Japanese equivalent of the Silver Slugger Award), a six-time Gold Glover in center field and was the 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year. He was also a member of both of Japan's World Baseball Classic championship teams in 2006 and 2009.


He will become the fifth Japanese-born player to wear a Giants uniform, joining left-handed pitcher Masanori Murakami (1964-1965), outfielder Tsuyoshi Shinjo (2002), right-handed pitcher Keiichi Yabu (2008) and infielder/outfielder Kensuke Tanaka (2013).