The Brewers were awarded the negotiating rights to Aoki on December 19 after the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League accepted the highest bid. The team had until 4pm CT today to sign Aoki to a Major or Minor League professional contract. Had Aoki not been signed, he would have returned to Japan and the Brewers would have received back their bid.
Aoki, who turned 30 on January 5, has played his entire eight-year professional career with Yakult, batting .329 with 84 HR, 385 RBI and 164 stolen bases in 985 games. He has batted over .300 in six of his seven full seasons and was Central League batting champion in 2005 (.344), 2007 (.346) and 2010 (.358). He was 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year and is a six-time Golden Glove Award winner.
Aoki has participated in both World Baseball Classic events (2006 and 2009), batting .310 with 8 RBI in 15 games, and competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics, batting .294 with 1 HR and 7 RBI in 9 games for Japan.
Aoki worked out for the Brewers on January 8 at the team’s Spring Training facility in Maryvale, Arizona. He bats left and throws right and wore uniform number one (1) while playing for Yakult.