Trade Deadline: Finding Underrated Talent in Milwaukee

As we approach the trading deadline, anybody who has a keyboard will be coming up with trade ideas for the New York Mets. The truth is, I try to stay away from the “rumor” machine because I feel like I’ve learned my lesson with getting enthralled in things that never actually happen.

The Mets are in an interesting position because so much of what they do moving forward depends on Ike Davis. If Davis comes back and stinks the place up, then we could be looking at a need we never thought we had.

For the sake of this discussion, let’s assume everything goes okay with Ike and hitting coach George Greer is able to figure something out that Ike can hold onto over the long term.

The Mets will need a leadoff hitter, and I think we saw what a guy like Eric Young Jr. can do to the team by injecting some life into the base paths.

I’d love to tell you I think Young Jr. or Byrd are long term solutions for 2014, but I really don’t think that is the case. If I’m wrong, I’ll happily be wrong because I love watching them both.

There is a name out there who could become available and if you ask me, he’s the most underrated player in the game today.

His name is Norichika Aoki, and he is the 31 year old right fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Aoki couldn’t be more perfect for the Mets if you ask me.

– He is signed to a $1.5 million option in 2014. In fact, Aoki took a paycut from Japan to come to the MLB.
– He can draw a walk but doesn’t need to walk to get on base, and strikes out at a very low rate. Last year, Aoki struck out 55 times and walked 43 in 588 plate appearances. This year he has walked 30 times and struck out 17 in 355 appearances.
– He can run. He stole 30 bases last year, and 9 this year. The negative side is he can be a little over aggressive on the base paths.
– He’s a leadoff hitter.
– He’s is a very good fielder. Aoki covers a lot of ground playing RF and has a solid arm with 13 outfield assists in the last two years.
– He probably won’t cost a ton.

Even his negatives can be viewed as positives if you ask me. Just recently, MLB’s Adam McCalvy reported that Aoki will become a free agent after the 2014 season if the Brewers pick up his option. This is significant because the Brewers were trying to figure out if Aoki was arbitration eligible. Now that they know he is not, he might become available.

The Mets could use more life on the base paths, and while his contract is only guaranteed for 2014 – that may be all the Mets need with players like Cesar Puello on the horizon.

Aoki isn’t a household name, and he’s very under the radar – but he could fill a significant void for the Mets over the next two years.

He doesn’t bring the power you’d like out of a corner outfielder, I concede that. However, I think he fits the mold this team could be looking for out of one of their outfield spots.

Will they get him? Is he available? Who knows. He’s a name to keep an eye on for sure though.

About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.