Hiroyuki Nakajima Rumors
Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday...
- “Like I’ve always said, there is one person responsible for making those decisions, and one person accountable for those results,” said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts to reporters (including Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune) when asked about the possibility of signing a player to a mammoth contract. “So if [Theo Epstein] believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.” Earlier today we heard that the Cubs are pursuing both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
- Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wonders if the Braves will offer Brian McCann a long-term contract extension soon. The six-time All-Star will make $11.5MM in 2012 and the team holds a $12MM club option for 2013, so there's no urgency to get a deal done at the moment.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is currently in the Dominican Republic scouting Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. On Monday we heard that Washington views Cespedes as an alternative to Fielder.
- The Mariners have interest in Fielder, and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says (on Twitter) that they would make Justin Smoak available in a trade if they manage to sign the free agent slugger.
- Before he agreed to join the Royals, the Red Sox expressed interest in Jonathan Broxton according to Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. Broxton wanted to sign before the winter meetings, and Lauber's source said that was “a little quicker than [the Sox] were comfortable with."
- There is no more than a "10 percent" chance that Rays GM Andrew Friedman could be convinced to take the Astros GM job according to one executive that spoke to Friedman and ESPN's Jayson Stark (Twitter link).
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman offered a “would not say" to George A. King III of The New York Post when asked if he has any interest in Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Seibu Lions posted Nakajima on Monday.
- Kelvim Escobar hopes to pitch in winter ball next month, agent Peter Greenberg told Mike Puma of The New York Post (Twitter link). The 35-year-old righty hopes to get back to MLB despite having pitched in just one game since 2007.
The posting period for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima has begun. The Seibu Lions posted Nakajima and MLB teams now have until 4pm CDT this Friday to submit bids, according to a Sponichi report relayed by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The MLB team that places the highest bid won't necessarily obtain Nakajima, however. The team would obtain an exclusive 30-day negotiating period during which the sides can work toward a deal and would only pay the posting fee if they come to terms on a contract.
In the summer of 2010, Newman called Nakajima Japan's second-best hitter behind Norichika Aoki (who will also be posted). Nakajima asked to be posted last offseason, but the team denied his request. The 29-year-old hit .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs and 27 doubles in 633 plate appearances for the Lions in 2011. Legacy Sports represents him in the U.S.
The Seibu Lions of Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League will post shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Legacy Sports will represent Nakajima in the U.S., according to Rosenthal.
In the summer of 2010, Patrick Newman of FanGraphs called Nakajima Japan's second-best hitter behind Norichika Aoki (who will also be posted). Nakajima asked to be posted last offseason, but the team denied his request. The 29-year-old shortstop hit .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs and 27 doubles in 633 plate appearances for the Lions in 2011.
Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins headline a top-heavy trade and free agent market for shortstops. Many teams figure to bid for the rights for Nakajima if they're priced out of the market for Reyes and Rollins and intrigued by a possible alternative to the second-tier options.
Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker has scoured Japanese newspapers for the latest rumors.
- Yakult center fielder Norichika Aoki has asked to be posted. Aoki hit .292/.358/.360 in 643 plate appearances in 2011. Newman wrote last year that Aoki was "the best pure hitter Japan has produced since Ichiro," but that was before his numbers dropped off significantly in 2011. Despite great range, Newman thought last year that Aoki's weak arm could limit him to left field in MLB.
- Seibu shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will again ask to be posted this offseason. Nakajima was denied that request last winter, though the Orioles and Mariners were reportedly among the interested teams. The 29-year-old hit .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs in 633 plate appearances this year. Newman considered Aoki Japan's second-best hitter in his August 2010 article.
- Chunichi southpaw Wei-Yin Chen was 50/50 on moving to MLB as of October 26th. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports dubbed Chen a "likely free agent" in a report this morning. The 26-year-old posted a 2.68 ERA, 5.1 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, and 0.49 HR/9 in 164 2/3 innings this year. He's represented by Alan Nero of Octagon.
- The Hiroshima Carp have an offer out to Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda said he's happy to have received the offer from his former team. His plans for 2012 remain unknown though.
- Multiple Japanese teams have interest in Kei Igawa, who reached free agency after his five-year deal with the Yankees expired.
- The Yankees and hitting coach Kevin Long agreed to a three-year deal, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. He'll be getting a raise on his previous $400K salary.
- The Athletics named Ron Romanick their new pitching coach, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- King's colleague Joel Sherman doesn't believe Brian Falkenborg will be the next Colby Lewis, as Falkenborg is likely to remain in Japan.
- The Indians removed catcher Luke Carlin from the 40-man roster, according to the team's Twitter account. Carlin, 30 next month, hit .238/.332/.336 at Triple-A this year. The Indians' 40-man roster is at 38. Andy Marte is another candidate to find his way off the 40-man, in my opinion.
- If Carl Crawford has similar offers elsewhere, he'd need to be convinced to join a former rival like the Yankees or Red Sox says ESPN's Buster Olney.
- The Seibu Lions have again denied Hiroyuki Nakajima's appeal to be posted, according to a report passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman on Twitter. The Japanese shortstop was said Saturday to be holding out hope.
- Check out the voting for the 2010 Fielding Bible Awards.
SATURDAY: Newman passes along another report (via Twitter) saying that Nakajima hasn't given up on being posted just yet. He wants to meet with Seibu Lions management again and try to get them to change to their minds.
FRIDAY: Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will not be posted, according to reports passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (on Twitter). He had been drawing interest from MLB teams including the Orioles and Mariners, but those clubs will have to look elsewhere for middle infield help. Nakajima would have added some pop to the otherwise ordinary group of shortstops available via trade or free agency.
The 28-year-old hit .314/.385/.511 with 20 home runs in 579 plate appearances in Japan this year. In an article for Fangraphs, Newman suggested Nakajima is a line drive hitter whose power could fade in the majors.
Links for Wednesday, as the Yankees try to prolong their season...
- Baseball sources tell Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that the Dodgers are likely to bring Trey Hillman aboard as their bench coach.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald wonders if Kerry Wood could have made a difference for the BoSox.
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks are expected to name Ray Montgomery their new scouting director. Montgomery has spent the last eight years in the Brewers organization.
- Bryce Harper will bat seventh in his Arizona Fall League debut tonight, according to the Nationals Baseball Media Relations department (via Twitter).
- The A's have announced several staff changes via press release. Gerald Perry has been welcomed back as hitting coach in place of Jim Skaalen. Joel Skinner, a longtime member of the Indians coaching staff, will take over as bench coach. Former bench coach Tye Waller will be reassigned as the first base coach. Waller replaces Todd Steverson who has been offered a position in the A's farm system.
- Mark McGwire is on the fence about returning as the Cards hitting coach, Tony La Russa told Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.
- Former Angels scouting director Eddie Bane will join the Tigers scouting department, according to ESPN.com's Keith Law (on Twitter).
- MLB.com's Jason Beck introduces us to Tigers assistant GM Al Avila, the longtime Detroit exec who remains a GM candidate. The Tigers recently declined to let the Mets interview Avila.
- If you play fantasy baseball, head over to RotoAuthority, where Tim Dierkes examines the impact of Ted Lilly's new deal on the lefty's fantasy value.
- It doesn't look like Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will become available to MLB teams this year, according to reports passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (Twitter link).
- Cubs GM Jim Hendry told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he will "absolutely" welcome Ryne Sandberg back to Chicago's minor league system if the Hall of Famer wants to continue working his way to the major leagues. Sandberg, a finalist for the Cubs major league job, was disappointed when the team hired Mike Quade.
- Brewers managerial candidate Pat Listach was pleased with his interview, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
The Orioles will show interest in five to eight Japanese players if they become available, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Orioles director of player development John Stockstill told Zrebiec that he scouted Japanese players personally as recently as September.
Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima has the Orioles’ attention; they have seen him play several times. The Mariners also have interest in Nakajima, according to Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner and other teams will be involved in the bidding, too. There aren’t many shortstops with power available via trades or free agency, so Nakajima figures to draw interest if he’s posted.
The Orioles would have kicked the tires on Yu Darvish if he had become available this offseason. They have seen the right-hander throw about 30 times since 2008, but Darvish plans to stay in Japan for 2011.
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.
On this date six years ago, the Dodgers released a 20-year-old righty named Joakim Soria, who was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Soria was later signed by the Padres out of the Mexican League and then snagged by the Royals in the 2006 Rule 5 draft. He's now one of the game's best closers. On to today's links...
- The Astros signed Dominican righty Luis Abad for a low six figures bonus, tweets SI's Melissa Segura. Back in May, Blake Bentley ranked the new Dominican prospects for MLBTR, placing Abad in a tenth-place tie and calling him "one of the most projectable pitchers you'll see."
- I took a look at Neil Walker's fantasy baseball prospects for 2011 over at RotoAuthority.
- The Mariners are interested in Japanese middle infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima, says U.S.S. Mariner's Dave Cameron. Nakajima may be posted by the Seibu Lions and could be a bargain this winter. Patrick Newman of FanGraphs has more on Nakajima.
- Royals first baseman Billy Butler changed agents, going from Doug Rogalski to Greg Genske of Legacy Sports, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Rogalski has to feel burned, as Butler is heading to arbitration for the first time this winter.
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts interviewed Eric Wedge for the team's managerial opening yesterday, reports ESPN's Bruce Levine. Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners interviewed Bobby Valentine yesterday and have Lloyd McClendon on the docket this week.
- Billy Wagner talked to MLB.com's Mark Bowman about his retirement.