Hiroyuki Nakajima Drawing Attention

5:02pm: Nakajima will be represented by former Boras Corporation agent Tak Sato, MLBTR has learned.  Sato was involved with the Daisuke Matsuzaka deal back in '06.

9:19am: If you look at our posts on the trade and free agent markets for shortstops and second basemen, you'll quickly see that there's not much available this offseason.  We named the Athletics, Mariners, Mets, Nationals, Cardinals, and Dodgers as teams that might be seeking second base help, and the Orioles, Reds, Cardinals, and Giants as clubs that could be looking for a shortstop.  The Twins, Astros, and Padres may need to fill both positions.  That's more than a dozen teams, so demand exceeds the supply for everyday middle infielders.

Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima is already generating buzz as one of the more interesting middle infielders potentially available this winter.  FanGraphs' Patrick Newman profiled Nakajima yesterday, noting that the Seibu Lions haven't posted him yet and negotiations to retain him will begin in a week.  Nakajima hit .314/.385/.511 with 20 home runs in 579 plate appearances this year.  Newman considers Nakajima a line drive/gap hitter, and expects him to display less power in the Majors.

From what I've heard, Nakajima is likely to be posted.  That means MLB clubs will bid for the right to negotiate with him.  I agree with Newman and U.S.S. Mariner's Dave Cameron that the posting fee is likely to be $5MM or less.  Cameron hears the Mariners are interested in Nakajima, while MASN's Roch Kubatko reports today that the Orioles are one of many teams that have scouted him.  Given the market for middle infielders, Nakajima should be very popular if the Lions post him.

43 Responses to Hiroyuki Nakajima Drawing Attention Leave a Reply

  1. jmits90 5 years ago

    The mets should sign him and move Reyes to second…

    • budman3 5 years ago

      Matsui Part II?

      • Backup_Slider 5 years ago

        Congratulations. You just nailed the very reason why the Mets (or Astros) would never sign this guy. Enjoy your Like.

  2. zonis 5 years ago

    I would love for the A’s to go after him for their Second Base job. It does not look like Cardenas or Weeks will be ready, and Cardenas could always move to 3B and Weeks to CF if they ever make it.

  3. Tim Valencia 5 years ago

    Line drive power with a decent OBP for a 2b, sounds perfect for the padres, sounds perfect but more than likely wont happen.

    • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

      Sounds perfect for any team interested in the next Ichiro with Power and a premium position.

    • 42214221 5 years ago

      Please be true

  4. I like Alex Gonzalez just fine, but the Braves need to take a look at this guy.

    • Major offensive regression coming next season for Gonzo. We got a preview soon after we traded Escobar.

      • We knew what we were getting, and we got something pretty close to his career line. And we got an unwanted presence out of the clubhouse.

  5. shockey12 5 years ago

    Toronto needs a player who can get on base and hit at the top of the order. Nakajima on 2nd and move Hill to 3rd?

    • I love how after 1 down year Hill isn’t a “top-of-the-order” guy anymore.

      That said, the O’s could really use him, he would supply significantly more pop than Cesar. We wouldn’t even be asking him to be a top of the order guy either, it would look something like:

      Roberts, Markakis, Mystery 1B, Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nakajima, Pie, Bell with a DH thrown in there somewhere.

      • The_Porcupine 5 years ago

        I agree that we shouldn’t get down on Hill after a down year, but I don’t think he’s an on base percentage guy to hit at the top of the order. To me, he’s a 5,6, or 7th place hitter, depending on how the rest of the team shakes out.

        • shockey12 5 years ago

          Hill never really was a top of the order guy. The only reason he was really there is because the team didn’t really have any other options. IMO he’s a 5,6 or 7 hitter depending on the kind of lineup. Don’t get me wrong I think that next year Hill will be back to his normal self (.275 average 20-25 homeruns). He just needs to stop swinging for the fences.

      • The_Silver_Stacker 5 years ago

        In fairness, Hill is an all or nothing hitter who really should hit middle-bottom of the order

    • safari_punch 5 years ago

      Or sign him for SS and trade Escobar and a pitcher for a 1B or 3b.

    • safari_punch 5 years ago

      Or sign him for SS and trade Escobar and a pitcher for a 1B or 3b.

  6. LiveFastCyYoung 5 years ago

    The Tigers should pursue him as a shortstop. Nothing to lose at this point. That position has been void since 1994. If I see another Chris Gomez, Deivi Cruz, Ramon Santiago, Shane Halter, or Edgar Renteria, I am going to lose my mind.And yes, I know Carlos Guillen put up some good years at the position, but his contributions are greatly weighed down by the other schlock they’ve put out there.

    • jphenix2002 5 years ago

      Better strap down that brain, unless you think Peralta will be any different.

    • jphenix2002 5 years ago

      Better strap down that brain, unless you think Peralta will be any different.

  7. The_Porcupine 5 years ago

    It will be interesting how hard the Orioles go after him. They’ve indicated a desire to get into the Japanese player signings. They could use a decent shortstop.

  8. What about the Cubs pursuing a 2nd baseman. It might be worth taking a chance on this guy.

  9. bomberj11 5 years ago

    Theo, settle down, just because he’s Japanese doesn’t mean you have to sign him.

    • The_Silver_Stacker 5 years ago

      The only way Theo stops looking at Japanese talent is if he and the Sox get burned like the Yankees did with Igawa

  10. Backup_Slider 5 years ago

    I don’t think there’s much interest among MLB organizations in bringing over NPB’s Japanese position players today. For the most part, it is a supply and demand issue. By and large, MLB organizations have more hitters and position players than they have room for at their upper levels. Meanwhile, they have all adopted the stance that there is no such thing as too much pitching, seeing as how pitching depth has become the number one commodity in the game today. Throw in the fact that the failures of NPB position player imports to live up expectations (Fukudome, Iwamura, Kaz Matsui, Johjima, Iguchi, etc.) have largely exceeded the successes (Ichiro, Hideki Matsui), and consider the pain in the rear factor (no Kaz Matsui joke intended there) associated with employing NPB imports (interpreters, onfield communication problems, media obligations, etc), and I just can’t see there being much interest in bringing over NPB’s position players, save for in Seattle where there is a strong Japanese presence in ownership (and the surrounding community). Having typed that, I do think that MLB organizations are highly interested in importing position playing prospects from Asia before they get to the professional levels over there, and allowing those prospects to work their way up through the MLB farm systems (therein permitting them to get acclimated to the American game and culture prior to reaching the big leagues).

    • Slopeboy 5 years ago

      Ozzie Guillen, is that you?

      • Backup_Slider 5 years ago

        Ozzie’s post would have went more like …japan guys dont hit major leagues pitcher good we had iguche i like him ok but he last bad fukdome not help my buddy lou pinelas there also pane in my ????s need translater i can no talk those guys my team no talk them ether i talk wiht usa guy venezuelans of corse dominican guy cubans great but not japan guy oh my god seattle have ichro and lovvvvves japan guy a lot so i thikn seattle sign japan guy but please no white sox kenny but yes i am very very big fan of sake lol

  11. Has anyone seen an estimate from one who might be savvy on such things, as to the cost of acquiring Nakajima?

    I’ve seen some outlandish figures for Darvish, and he may be worth it, but nothing on Nakajima.

    • firearmofmutiny 4 years ago

      I’m going to guess about $5m posting fee.  Like others have pointed out, the market has kind of crashed on NPB players (except for Darvish), and $5m seems about the norm.  This guy would be a good get at that price and about $4m/year.  Having followed NPB since 2006, he’s definitely better than Nishioka.

    • firearmofmutiny 4 years ago

      I’m going to guess about $5m posting fee.  Like others have pointed out, the market has kind of crashed on NPB players (except for Darvish), and $5m seems about the norm.  This guy would be a good get at that price and about $4m/year.  Having followed NPB since 2006, he’s definitely better than Nishioka.

  12. Stay away St. Louis. These players never work out.

    • stl_cards16 5 years ago

      What never works out, is our middle infield. I would be willing to take a chance on someone. And since he can’t speak English, even better, Big Mac won’t be able to screw him up if he can’t understand him.

      • atfm25 5 years ago

        You’re seriously blaming the Cards problems on McGwire? Who did he screw up at the plate?

  13. slr5607 5 years ago

    This is really interesting for just about every single team in baseball. Teams like ATL, SF, SD, STL, and more could all use starting SS or 2B for next year. The problem is that these guys from overseas are not tested enough. Look at all the buzz Fukudome had. What about Iwamura? These guys were supposed to be pretty good Major Leaguers. This guy is already 28 years old too. I would think that you would have to give him a 3-4 year deal worth 4-5 million to make it worth his while to come over here. Without knowing if he is going to bring that OBP over here or not.

    If Nakajima was able to carry a .370+ OBP in the majors he would be well worth this posting fee and a 16 million / 4 year deal. If he flopped, your team just lost out on 20-22 million dollars. Its a risk that I think a lot of teams will not take.

    If you look at the free agents after the 2011 seasons as middle infielders look, this is what you could choose from: Bartlett, Rollins, Furcal, Hardy, Uggla, Sanchez, Barmes, Weeks, Johnson. Is it worth signing a stop gap like Uribe or Tejada to make it to the 2011-2012 free agent class?

    • But how many of the guys you mention are going to be locked up before they reach free agency?

      I get what you’re saying, a lot of these Japanese ball players don’t pan out offensively, I think more so than his hitting ability, it’s important to gauge whether Nakajima is a quality middle infielder with the glove. If so then at least a team isn’t going to lose out too much as even the weakest hitting gold glover will cost a team a few million. Take St. Louis for example, it wouldn’t be hard to replace Skip Schumaker’s bat, but if they could put a gold glove middle infield behind that ground ball staff it would do wonders for the team.

    • Redbirds16 5 years ago

      Agreed. I think he’s a pretty large risk to invest that sum of money into. Remember, it’s 5MM just for the negotiations. And then going in to deal with Boras and Co., a club is going to be spending some serious cash for a guy who is a far from sure thing in the MLB game.

      The Cards could use him, but not at the price tag that’s going to be put up. Unfortunately, I think they pass. The only team I could see making a move would be the Mariners, but even then I think they’d be better served spending their money on a power bat.

  14. Stl_Great 5 years ago

    Would be a great sign for the cards. Really the only thing needed this offseason. Middle Infielders, and you can always use a pitcher. Get it done Mo.

    • jwredsox 5 years ago

      Cards don’t really have the money. They need to be able to pay Pujols and Wainwright in upcoming years along with Holliday. Unless he is really cheap I don’t see them being serious contenders

  15. Forget Jhonny, sign Nakajima. Better a crap shoot than just plain crap!

  16. If the O’s plunk down 5mm to TALK to a free agent, start looking for the pod and try and find out where the real Peter Angelos is.

  17. safari_punch 5 years ago

    Is Nakajima buddies with any of the other Japanese players in MLB? That could possibly dictate where he goes and help with his comfort level adjusting his first year on this side of the Pacific. I’d imagine with the Mariners name being thrown around there is some sort of friendship with Ichiro, as well as a need, of course?

  18. You forgot to put Reyes, and Beltran on the DL.

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