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UPDATE: The Twins have a deal with Tsuyoshi Nishioka

Dec 16, 2010, 5:18 PM EDT

nishioka throwing

UPDATE: Heyman says the deal is done: three years, plus an option for “about $10 mil.”  He adds that Nishioka could play second base or shortstop.  Guess it depends on whether the Twins would rather play Alexi Casilla at second or short.

9:30 AM: Heyman says the deal is a three-year deal plus an option year, with the guaranteed money being around $10 million.  That would put it at the low-end of the expected range compared to the posting fee, but maybe that option is favorable for Nishioka.

9:15 AMKen Rosenthal reports that NPB star Tsuyoshi Nishioka is in Minnesota and is “very close” to signing a deal with the Twins. He’s set for a physical today. Given that the Twins bid $5 million for Nishioka’s bidding rights — and given that Japanese players who previously joined MLB teams through the posting process typically got contracts that were close to the posting fee — Nishioka  is expected to receive a multi-year contract worth between $3-5 million per season.

As Aaron has previously observed, it’s not clear what the Twins are getting in Nishioka. Yes,  he won the batting title this year by hitting .346, but that may have been a fluke. Before 2010 he was a career .280 hitter. He batted just .260 in 2009 and he doesn’t have much in the way of power. He’s fast, however, and he’s supposed to have a pretty nifty glove.  Given how thin the shortstop position is in the American League, he could be a nice pickup.

Or he could be Kaz Matsui.

  1. Jeremiah Graves - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    **crosses fingers that he’s NOT Kaz Matsui v2.0**

    I had a serious man-crush on JJ Hardy and loved me some O-Dawg (even though letting him walk was the right move), so I really, really hope this works out.

    To say I’m not overly confident in a Casilla/Nishioka middle infield with–most likely–Matt Tolbert as the super utility would be a bit of an understatement.

    Hardy/Nishioka with Casilla as the understudy would have made me feel a whole lot better heading into 2011, especially with the White Sox and Tigers making some strides in the right direction.

  2. Loren - Dec 16, 2010 at 10:28 AM

    Math quibble: As Aaron Gleeman detailed in his post about the A’s negotiations with Hisahi Iwakuma, the size of the total contract has been historically similar to the size of the posting fee, so a $10M contract is a bit high in this regard. I don’t think there have been enough players that have been posted yet to really draw any conclusions from history though.

  3. sknut - Dec 16, 2010 at 11:39 AM

    I was in the boat that wanted Hardy to stay but I got the move from a dollars and baseball sense. I am excited to see what Nishokia brings to the table. I give the Twins credit for reaching out to bring talent in this is an area they have vastly improved upon. Now I hope they use more advanced metrics than they have in the past, maybe Aaron could get a job with the Twins if this HBT thing doesn’t work out.

    • Panda Claus - Dec 17, 2010 at 12:58 PM

      As an O’s fan, I was hoping to get Nishioka and was disappointed the team never put in a bid for the guy. And when the Twins won with “only” a $5M bid, I was almost apoplectic. Then it turns out Hardy gets sent to Baltimore for what seemed like reasonable trade pieces, and my viewpoint started to change.

      If Hardy holds up health-wise Baltimore clearly has improved at SS. And if Nishioka comes close to his production last year, Minnesota’s move will look good too.

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