The Kansas City Royals acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki from Milwaukee to be their leadoff hitter Thursday, which also means the Brewers are likely to shift Ryan Braun to right field.
Milwaukee received left-hander Will Smith, who spent most of the past couple seasons shuffling between Kansas City and Triple-A Omaha, and between the bullpen and the starting rotation.
Royals General Manager Dayton Moore said on a conference call that he envisions Aoki batting at the top of the order, just as he did with the Brewers, which would allow Alex Gordon to slide down into an RBI-producing role. Aoki hit .286 with eight homers, 37 RBI and 20 steals last season.
Aoki, who turns 32 next month, also ranked second in the majors with 40 infield hits, and .339 against left-handed pitching, the best average by a left-handed hitter in the big leagues. He struck out just 40 times in 674 plate appearances.
“We like his energy, we like his work ethic. He’s a pro,” Moore said. “We had a chance to see him a lot in Japan coming up. ... We’ll see how it plays out.”
Aoki, who is in the last year of his contract, is due $1.25 million this season. He can also make up to $1,087,500 in performance bonuses based on starts and games played.
The Royals already bolstered their rotation this offseason by agreeing to a four-year, $32 million deal with Jason Vargas. Now they’ve acquired the leadoff hitter they have long coveted.
Boston bolsters bullpen
A sources says that the Boston Red Sox have agreed with reliever Edward Mujica on a two-year deal.
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal was pending a physical and had not been announced. Mujica, 29, gives the Red Sox some protection if soon-to-be 39-year-old closer Koji Uehara cannot repeat his 2013 performance next season.
Mujica was 2-1 with 37 saves and a 2.78 ERA for the National League-champion St. Louis Cardinals last season.
Dodgers retain Wilson
Free-agent reliever Brian Wilson agreed to terms on a $10 million, one-year contract to stay with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a source said. The deal is pending a physical, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team had not made an announcement regarding the quirky, bearded three-time All-Star. Wilson’s new contract includes an $8.5 million player option for the 2015 season.
Wilson went 2-1 with a 0.66 ERA in 18 outings over 13⅔ innings this year for Los Angeles.
Around the league
The Philadelphia Phillies signed catcher Wil Nieves to a $1,125,000, one-year contract. Nieves played in 71 games last season for the Arizona Diamondbacks and batted .297 with one home run and 22 RBI. The Phillies also signed right-hander Jeff Manship to a minor-league deal with an invitation to major-league spring training. … Utility player Willie Bloomquist officially signed a $5.8 million, two-year contract with the Seattle Mariners for $2.8 million in 2014 and $3 million in 2015. … Jose Contreras, the Cuban right-hander who turns 42 today, signed a minor-league contract with the Texas Rangers that includes a non-roster invitation to major league spring training.