Mets release veteran outfielder Nori Aoki

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Norichika Aoki
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 25: Norichika Aoki /

Who are the Mets gonna call? Not Nori Aoki.

The Mets announced on Monday afternoon that they’ve released outfielder Nori Aoki. The 35-year-old was eligible for arbitration this upcoming season, so it seems the Mets prefer looking elsewhere to fill the needs this club still has going into 2018.

Aoki signed with the Mets mid-season after being released by the Toronto Blue Jays. He played in 27 games and had 116 plate appearances. He hit for an average of .281, with an on-base percentage of .371.

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Unfortunately for Aoki, his power numbers were just not there during his team with the Amazin’s. His .373 slugging percentage is pretty indicative of the type of hitter Aoki is, and as an outfielder, you have to be able to produce more pop. In those 27 games, Aoki failed to hit a single ball over the fence, and racked up just seven doubles in total.

Aoki will have likely commanded around $6 million in arbitration this season, so hopefully the Mets decide to put that money to good use elsewhere since it won’t be going to the veteran outfielder.

There’s definitely still a need at center field for a team that expects to contend next season. Having Juan Lagares there is nice, and maybe even a platoon with Brandon Nimmo works out well if he can keep that .797 OPS going in 2018 again. Odds are though, the Mets are going to want to have some insurance on the roster just in case it doesn’t pan out that way.

That’s without even talking about the giant elephant in the room: Michael Conforto‘s shoulder. If he’s not ready for the beginning of the season after his surgery and rehab, the Mets are likely going to have another slot open in the outfield. No one on the current roster can fill Conforto’s numbers, so it would be wise to look into another signing this offseason.

Next: Should the Mets bring back R.A. Dickey?

Yoenis Cespedes is expected to be more than healthy by the time Spring Training rolls around, but with this hamstrings made out of glass, you never know when that will change.

I’m hopeful the Wilpons aren’t just being cheap, but will instead take this money and invest it somewhere else. For the sake of a successful 2018 season, that better be the thought process.