Royals trade for Norichika Aoki (Is steal too strong a word?)

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals just pulled off an awfully nice trade. We should do that too!


The Kansas City Royals have acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for relief pitcher Will Smith.

This is not a massive trade, and it's not likely to have huge implications for either team, but I do feel pretty confident Kansas City got the better end of it, and I'm surprised Milwaukee couldn't find a better return for a very solid player. Aoki has been a league-average hitter during his first two years in MLB, and plays good defense in right field. He will cost just $2 million in 2014, an absolute bargain for a 2 or 3-win player, and he's under team control through 2017*.

*EDITOR'S NOTE: What I'd read said Aoki was under team control til 2017, but it was pointed out in the comments that he will actually be a free agent following 2014. I still think KC giving up a reliever to land him was a good move, but he's not nearly as valuable as I believed, given this news.

Smith is also cheap and under team control for years (and is only 24), but after struggling as a starting pitcher in 2012, he was sent to the bullpen in 2014, where he posted a 3.28 ERA in 33.1 innings (good for an ERA+ of 128), good for a reliever, but nothing special.

As young as Smith is, there's certainly a chance he becomes a good pitcher, Milwaukee may even move him back to the rotation, but Kansas City just spun a second-tier reliever for a very solid (and affordable) outfielder, improving their roster for 2014 (and probably saving them the $48 million they've apparently offered Carlos Beltran). The Royals are getting better, and the Indians seem to be sitting on the sidelines, which brings me to my actual purpose in writing this post...

It's a drag watching other teams make moves.

A few days ago the Tigers traded away Doug Fister, one of the 25 or so best starting pitchers in baseball, for a return generously described as underwhelming. As an Indians fan, I was happy to see that move, because it weakened a big rival, but there was also part of me wondering why the Indians weren't in on Fister, if that package of players is all it took to land him. I'm sure fans of 28 teams were having that thought. Fister would have been a great fit for the Tribe (though the likelihood of the top two teams in a division working out that kind of trade with one another are always slim), I sure would like to see him in an Indians uniform for the next couple years.

Aoki doesn't make much sense for the Indians, but couldn't someone have kept him off a division rival, or at least have forced that rival to give up more than a decent relief arm?

The casual fan isn't paying much attention right now, they're busy with football, holiday shopping, or the final season of Treme (okay, not many people are busy with that), but for those of us immersed in baseball 365 days of the year, early December often brings the frustration of seeing all kinds of hot stove action, none of it involving your favorite team. Last winter (when the Indians landed one of the best managers in baseball, then went out and signed both Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn) set the bar too high. This offseason has been a drag.

I feel like a kid who's been at a different birthday party every day this week, and I'm tired of watching everyone else open their presents.

.

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