Houston (CBS HOUSTON) – The Houston Astros wasted no time in trying to improve the roster. Thursday just hours after the World Series ended, general manager Jeff Luhnow claimed Seattle Mariners outfielder Nori Aoki of waivers.
Aoki a left-handed batter, last year played in 118 games and had a .283 batting average. The bigger stat is he only struck out 45 times in 467 plate appearances.
“He’s a low strikeout, high contact, high on-base guy,” Luhnow told sportsradio610.com of Aoki. “(He) sprays the ball, and really gets on-base, and runs well, seems to be a very complementary piece being left-handed and a contract guy to our righted-heavy power lineup.”
The move seems like almost a one for one swap, with the Astros not expected to bring back Colby Rasmus, Aoki could likely fill his void. The newly acquired outfielder won’t have the same power that Rasmus had, but he will put the ball in play and get on base at a much higher level.
As of now without Rasmus, George Springer is the elder statesmen in the Astros outfield and Aoki can help give provide a veteran presence.
“He certainly has the experience he’s played on championship team’s,” Luhnow said. “He’s complementary to the types of guys we have out there.”
With Luis Valbuena, Jason Castro, and Rasmus all free agents the only remaining left-handed bats that played a key role on last season’s team where Preston Tucker and A.J. Reed.
Lefties could still be a need, but at least with Aoki in the fold, it’s not the number one need.
“To know that we have a good left-handed hitting, experienced outfielder on our roster right now is a good place to be in early November, especially since it doesn’t preclude us from making any other moves,” Luhnow said.