Even with Chris Young in the fold, the Mets could still stand to improve their outfield situation heading into the 2014 season. One possible avenue to that improvement has been taken off the table as the Brewers today announced that they have traded right-fielder Norichika Aoki to the Royals in exchange for left-handed starter/reliever Will Smith.
Some Mets fans (myself included) have been infatuated with Aoki this winter because he's a safe, inexpensive investment who accumulated 6.5 bWAR over his two seasons in Milwaukee. Although he defense was never solid and his stolen base efficiency dropped considerably from 2012 to 2013, Aoki has struck out just 95 times in two full seasons in MLB while posting a .355 OBP.
Fangraphs is less generous with its own WAR statistic with just 4.2 for Aoki in his two seasons, but his ability to put the ball in play and steal a few bags while not striking out makes him a decent lead-off option that the Royals do not have to commit long-term to.
For the Mets to acquire Aoki, it was said that they would have had to part ways with one of their first baseman, either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. It is, of course, still possible that one of those players gets dealt before Opening Day. Perhaps general manager Sandy Alderson had someone with more long-term potential in mind as a prize.
Long-term is apparently what the Brewers were thinking, as they grabbed the 24-year-old Smith, who was traded to the Royals as part of a deal for Alberto Callaspo in 2010. Although he struggled as a big league starter in his 2012 debut, Smith was dominant (43 strikeouts, seven walks, 0.93 WHIP) for 33.1 innings out of the bullpen last season and should be an interesting piece no matter how Milwaukee chooses to utilize him.
It also has to be noted that with Smith now in the National League, it's possible for him to come to bat to "Gettin' Jiggy wit It."