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White Sox expected to pursue Norichika Aoki in free agency

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The outfielder could head to the White Sox, who are looking to add outfielders.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Free agent outfielder Norichika Aoki, less than a week removed from a Game 7 loss in the World Series, could find himself a member of the White Sox at some point this offseason. According to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, the Sox have "a lot of interest" in the former Royals outfielder following his .285/.349/.360 performance in 549 plate appearances last season.

The White Sox, coming off a 73-89 record, could use a boost in an outfield that projects to start Jordan Danks, Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia (from left to right) next season as the roster currently stands. Danks has a career .303 OBP (and 74 OPS+) through 386 plate appearances, while Garcia missed the majority of the season after he tore the labrum in his left shoulder in early April. Backup outfielders Leury Garcia (.399 OPS last season) and Jared Mitchell (.230 career minor league hitter) don't inspire much confidence either for a Sox outfield that finished 28th in WAR in 2014, per FanGraphs.

Though he wasn't an offensive superstar last season, Aoki's relative consistency during his three seasons in the majors makes him an attractive free agent. He provides almost no power (one home run last season), but also fields his position well, with a zone rating that has increased in each of his MLB seasons. As the following table shows, Aoki also reaches base as an excellent rate, offsetting his lack of power and making him almost the definition of league average at the plate.

AVG OBP OPS+ SB
2012 .288 .355 109 30
2013 .286 .356 100 20
2014 .255 .349 98 17

Acquiring Aoki could also be a plus for the White Sox because they would no longer have to face him. As South Side Sox pointed out, Aoki hit .492/.549/.619 in 71 PAs (16 games) against the Sox last year, singlehandedly raising his average by 30 points. Though Chicago still has plenty of work to do if it wants to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, signing Aoki this offseason would be a step in the right direction.