Royals acquire Brewers’ Aoki

The Royals moved to upgrade their outfield on Thursday morning, acquiring outfielder Norichika Aoki from the Brewers for left-handed pitcher Will Smith.

Aoki, who turns 32 in January, played two seasons for the Brewers after signing out of Japan. Last season he played in 155 games, mostly in right field, and hit .286/.356/.370 with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. He is set to make $1.95 million in the final year of his contract.

The 24-year-old Smith has spent parts of two seasons with the Royals. He posted a 5.32 ERA over 16 starts in 2012 but bounced back with a 3.24 mark in 19 appearances last season, including 18 out of the bullpen. He also struck out 43 batters in 33 1/3 innings.

The Royals’ acquisition of Aoki will not impact their pursuit of free agent Carlos Beltran, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and MLB Network. Rosenthal added that trading for Aoki increases the likelihood that signing Beltran would lead Kansas City to deal away designated hitter Billy Butler.

– Andrew Simon

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