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Hiroyuki Nakajima’s agent exploring sign-and-trade

Dec 14, 2011, 10:43 PM EDT

nakajima getty Getty Images

According to Ken Rosenthal of, the agent for Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima has approached the Yankees’ decision-makers about their interest in executing a sign-and-trade.

It’s a strategy that is seen more often in the NBA than MLB, but it might make sense in this case.

The Yankees won the rights to Nakajima earlier this month with a $2 million posting fee, but they can’t offer him much in the way of playing time next season and probably can’t even guarantee him a spot on the Opening Day roster. If another big league club steps forward with interest in the 29-year-old, the Yankees could work out a quick contract and then ship him off to a new organization.

Nakajima posted a .297/.354/.433 batting line with 16 home runs, 100 RBI and 21 stolen bases this past season for the Seibu Lions. He is a .302 career hitter in Nippon Professional Baseball.

If no other big league team wants him, Nakajima will likely head back to his native Japan.

  1. yournuts - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    This guy would be a perfect fit for the Giants. He is still young, can field and he can hit. Brian Sabean, what are you waiting for? Call Brian Cashman, you have pitching and he has your shortstop.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Dec 15, 2011 at 6:42 AM

      You sound like as Yankees fan. Why would the Giants give the Yankees a good pitching prospect for somebody they could have posted for? Oh,.to help the Yankees.

      • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:20 AM

        And you sound like a bitter Red Sox fan.

      • yournuts - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:34 AM

        The Giants have no Shortstop. This guy is still in his prime at 29. He hit .302 for a bad team. I don’t know if the Giants posted or not but the history of the Giants is sad when it comes to free agents or young players of this caliber. This is an opportunity for the Giants to get someone who can hit and play shortstop. What would the Giants have to give up? Maybe a reliever that the Giants have plenty of anyway. Don’t you think trhis helps the Giants?

  2. kvanhorn87 - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    The phillies need a shortstop. Maybe they can sign and trade Ryan Madson or Roy Oswalt

    • Kevin S. - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:40 PM

      Yanks have plenty of firepower in the bullpen – why would they want to overpay for Madson? And I can’t remember if the Phillies offered Oswalt arbitration, but if they did, the first-round pick would be more valuable than Nakajima, and if they didn’t, Yanks wouldn’t need a S-and-T to get around any pick forfeiture.

      • Jonny 5 - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:45 AM

        The Phillies didn’t offer Oswalt arbitration. His salary would have exceeded his real value had he accepted. He’s a free agent.

      • Kevin S. - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

        So, yeah, no reason to do a double sign-and-trade.

  3. genericcommenter - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:10 PM

    What’s that team that signed 2 or 3 utility infielders, with one guy who hit something like .169 getting a multi-year deal? They should go for it.

    • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:21 AM

      The Red Sox? LMAO

  4. humanexcrement - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:48 PM

    Assuming the level of play in Japan is AAAA with talent ranging from AAA caliber to major league, his numbers don’t translate into him being a major asset to a team, let alone a contender like the Yankees. ARod will almost surely spend at least some time on the DL this season, and he can fill in for Jeter. They wouldn’t have put in their bid if they didn’t expect him to play. There is a good chance he could be useful in that role, and he may get a chance to play regularly for stretches of time, and all for a contender. What’s he expecting to get, Jose Reyes’ old job?

    • marinersnate - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:54 AM

      “What’s he expecting to get, Jose Reyes’ old job?”

      Well, let’s see. Nakajima is a career .300 hitter, NPB All-star, starting SS on the Japanese WBC team, starting SS on the Japanese Olympic team. Maybe he didn’t think he would be replacing Reyes, but I am guessing he thought he would get a better gig in MLB than back-up, minimum wage, utility infielder. I am still wondering why the Yankees bid on the guy. They had to know they couldn’t sign him and no one is going to give up a lot in a trade when they could have just bid on him themselves.

      • humanexcrement - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:09 AM

        He’s not an excellent on base guy, has little power. Those numbers are probably only going to go down over here. He won’t sniff .300, and if he does, it’ll be an empty .300. At best, he’s a nice #9 hitter in a good AL lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I want the guy to succeed. He should sign a one-year deal with NY, put up good numbers in limited playing time (judging by ARod’s record, he might get more than he thinks) and then be a FA and have his pick next year.

      • marinersnate - Dec 15, 2011 at 2:07 AM


        “He should sign a one-year deal with NY, put up good numbers in limited playing time (judging by ARod’s record, he might get more than he thinks) and then be a FA and have his pick next year.”

        That is part of the problem with signing him. He would not be a free agent next year unless he can somehow have it specifically negotiated into his contract. Otherwise, per MLB rules, he has three years just to hit arb, then three more till FA. I am pretty sure he does not want to be a back-up, utility infielder for…. six years. Even for the Yankees.

        Now, on the other hand, we over here in the PNW could probably use a STARTING SS…. (Why the M’s did not bid- $2M??- is beyond my paygrade.) Just a thought….

      • paperlions - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:51 AM

        Teams didn’t bid anything because guys that are 29 that put up those kinds of stats against AA level competition typically don’t do well in the majors…where the pitching is light years ahead of pitching in Japan.

      • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        Deal him to the Mariners with another decent player for King Felix. Felix is just wasting his prime years in Seattle anyway.

    • paperlions - Dec 15, 2011 at 8:09 AM

      Japan is no where near AAAA, it is closer to AA. There are a few guys with ML talent, but the gap in competition between Japan and the MLB is so large, there is no way to tell if a guys skills will translate….they usually don’t….just like most guys that tear up AA in the mid-20s usually don’t do anything in the majors.

      Just look at the guys that are AAAA US players that turn into MVP candidates in Japan….the gap is huge.

      • yournuts - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:39 AM

        Japan has some darn good players thatt have come out of there. Don’t sell them short. Look at Matsui and Ichiro as 2 examples. Paperlion Japan baseball is good and getting better all the time. There are some really good players there.

      • paperlions - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:24 PM

        I’m not selling it short. There are a few MLB quality players. You want me to list all of the Japanese players that were busts? The list is a lot longer than the successes. A 28 yr old Japanese player has the disadvantage of having never faced AAA or ML quality competition, and a lot of players find their ceiling between AA and MLB….it is like having a prospect tearing up the minors, and then keeping him in AA for 8 years….that will likely retard the development of the player because they are not faced with new challenges…and until they face and overcome those challenges, you just don’t know which players will be able to do so.

    • randygnyc - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:59 AM

      This sounds like a trap. Yankees would actually have to sign him before antrade can be finalized. This means that should the team back out, the yanks would be stuck with him, his new contract and the posting fee, pissed away.

  5. kvanhorn87 - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:09 AM

    I was being sarcastic. Sorry if that was lost in translation

  6. pisano - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    Hey the Braves need a shortstop ( wanted Nunez from Yanks for Jurgens ) and they’re supposed to be loaded with pitching so sign and trade him to them.

    • purnellmeagrejr - Dec 15, 2011 at 6:46 AM

      you Yankees fans don’t quit with your fantasies.

      • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:24 AM

        Doesn’t even come close to the fantasies that Red Sox fans have on a yearly basis. Nor the delusions in Beantown.

    • bravojawja - Dec 15, 2011 at 10:19 AM

      The Braves have two kids coming up at shortstop and don’t want to block them with a long-term deal with somebody else. Pastornicky is penciled in to start in 2012, with Simmons coming behind him if needed. The GM has said he’s only looking for a veteran guy who can backup the kid or take over for a year if the kid isn’t ready.

  7. jwbiii - Dec 15, 2011 at 9:03 AM

    A couple more things about Nakajima. First, he’s due to make $3.5M-$4M in Japan next season. How much of a premium would it take to get you to take a job on the other side of the world? 33%? 50%? Kind of pricy for a backup infielder, if that’s how you intend to use him. Second: He’s said that he only wants to play in Seattle. Of course, money changes everything. Naturally, second base is one of the few positions where the Mariners have a good young player.

    • bozosforall - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      Nakajima and Burnett for King Felix. 2 starters for 1. Seattle won’t find a better deal that that.

      • jwbiii - Dec 15, 2011 at 11:58 AM

        Substitute “Figgins” for “Felix” and it just might work.

      • jwbiii - Dec 15, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        I just went back and read Nikkan Sports and Sanspo articles. He changed his story: He’ll play for anyone, but he wants to stay at shortstop. The Giants could use a SS and have a bad pitching contract they’d probably be willing to trade.

      • majmayhem - Dec 15, 2011 at 1:05 PM

        jwbill, you talking straight up trade for players, then heck yeah! Nakajima and Burnett for Figgins? DONE DEAL! I bet Cashman would sign Nakajima just to get Burnett off his books.

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