Another outfielder on the free agent market who drew some interest from the Orioles has signed elsewhere. Friday afternoon brought the news that Nori Aoki, most recently of the Royals, had signed a one-year deal with the San Francisco Giants. Aoki gets $4.7 million guaranteed with the contract.
There are a lot of free agent deals that get thrown around that you can't even imagine the O's doing under any circumstance. There's no point in even fantasizing about a Max Scherzer or whoever any of the top free agents are each year. They won't do that money at the top, and many mid-level players end up being overpaid relative to their performance.
When you're only talking this modest kind of Aoki money for one year, though, you have to figure the Orioles just weren't that interested after all. They seem willing, based on reports, to spend more money than that on Colby Rasmus, so maybe it's that they decided they'd rather get Rasmus or nobody. Or maybe they really, really do believe in their current set of outfield options.
Aoki is 33 and coming off a season in which he batted .285/.349/.360 with a hitter-unfriendly home park. That's a respectable on-base percentage with basically nonexistent power. He only homered once in 549 plate appearances in 2014.
Defensive numbers are not in agreement about him; he pulled a -8 in Defensive Runs Saved after two positive years with the Brewers. By UZR, on the other hand, he had a +5.9, which is modest but not bad. He was often replaced in the outfield in late innings by a bench-warming gum-flapper.
The free agent market produces some real head-scratchers at times. What the heck makes Nick Markakis worth nine times the guaranteed money of Aoki? True, Markakis is younger by a couple of years, but their batting lines over the last couple of years aren't all that different and Aoki did not just have neck surgery.
Rasmus is still out there, but so is the possibility of us having to talk ourselves into an Orioles Opening Day outfield of Steve Pearce, Adam Jones, and Alejandro De Aza.