Tsuyoshi Nishioka Rumors

Orioles Acquire J.J. Hardy, Brendan Harris

The Orioles officially acquired shortstop J.J. Hardy, infielder Brendan Harris, and $500K from the Twins for relievers Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey, the teams announced.

Hardy, 28, hit .268/.320/.394 in 375 plate appearances this year for the Twins after coming over from Milwaukee for Carlos Gomez.  He missed time with wrist and knee injuries.  Hardy earned $5.1MM this year and is arbitration eligible one last time.  He would have been a free agent already, but fell just short of the service time requirement because the Brewers briefly demoted him to Triple-A late in the '09 season.  Hardy joins Mark Reynolds in a revamped left side infield for Baltimore.  He became expendable for Minnesota with their expected signing of Japanese import Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Harris, 30, received only 120 plate appearances from the Twins this year after more regular duty in previous seasons.  He was outrighted in June due to poor performance, and a $1.75MM commitment for 2011 likely allowed him to clear waivers.  Harris is capable of playing all around the infield.

Hoey, 28 later this month, hasn't pitched in the Majors since '07.  In a season split between Double and Triple-A, the reliever posted a 3.25 ERA, 12.0 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 0.2 HR/9 in 52 2/3 innings in 2010.  Prior to his '08 shoulder surgery, Hoey's average fastball velocity exceeded 95 mph.

Jacobson, a 24-year-old reliever, posted a 2.79 ERA, 8.5 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 0.9 HR/9 in 71 High-A innings this year.  Baseball America ranked him 16th among Orioles prospects heading into the season, noting that he came over from the Tigers in the Aubrey Huff deal in August of '09.  He's said to have a power repertoire and a setup man profile.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.

Twins Rumors: Pavano, Nishioka, Thome, Greinke

Another fresh batch of Twins rumors from La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

  • Carl Pavano's agent Tom O'Connell told Neal that the two sides had a "productive talk" today and said to "stay tuned." According to Neal, the Twins feel they have a legitimate chance to retain the right-hander. O'Connell also met with other teams today, including the Nationals. SI.com's Jon Heyman adds, via Twitter, that the Twins are trying hard to keep Pavano in the fold and that he was their 2010 clubhouse leader.
  • The Twins did not meet with Tsuyoshi Nishioka's representatives today, and no talks are scheduled for Wednesday either, says Neal. The club still hopes to sign him, and "no one is worried." Neal reminds us that negotiations with Japanese players can be more complicated, as clauses for perks such as a certain number of round-trip tickets to fly friends and family over from Japan are often worked into the deals as well.
  • The Twins touched base with Jim Thome today and still hope to sign their 2010 hero, who slugged over .600 for Minnesota in a revitalized season.
  • While the Twins remain in touch with the Royals about Zack Greinke, Neal doesn't see any way Minnesota could acquire the Kansas City ace without bringing a third team into the equation.

Twins Offer Nishioka Multiyear Deal

7:38am: La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune gets the sense that the Twins would like to get something done sooner rather than later, despite the fact that they have until Dec. 26 to sign Nishioka. Neal says the Twins are pushing for an agreement to happen during the Winter Meetings, and the sides exchanged multiple proposals yesterday.

TUESDAY, 6:43am: Nishioka is seeking something along the lines of a three-year, $12MM deal from the Twins, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Heyman feels there's optimism for a deal between the two sides.

MONDAY, 7:44pm: The Twins offered Tsuyoshi Nishioka a multiyear deal, according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse. One source tells Price that the Twins are working to sign the infielder to a two or three-year deal worth $3-4MM per season and a second source says the Twins have offered a three-year deal worth $9-10MM in total. Jon Heyman of SI.com reported earlier today that Nishioka was looking for a three-year deal.

The Twins have until late December to work out an agreement with the 26-year-old. If the sides do not reach an agreement, the Chiba Lotte Marines will not receive the $5MM that Minnesota bid for the right to negotiate with Nishioka.

Twins Rumors: Nishioka, Pavano, Morneau, Bullpen

As I get ready to settle in for more overnight coverage for our around-the-clock coverage of the 2010 Winter Meetings, here's some Twins info for you fellow creatures of the night, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III:

  • It will be up to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire whether or not Tsuyoshi Nishioka will play second base or shortstop if the Twins sign the Japanese batting champ. That decision, of course, will likely impact the club's plans for J.J. Hardy, who is known to be on the trading block. Earlier tonight we learned that the Twins offered Nishioka a multiyear deal.
  • Twins GM Bill Smith wouldn't rule out the possibility of Hardy, Nishioka, and Alexi Casilla all being on the roster in 2011, but remember that Gardenhire did voice a desire for more speed (which Casilla has and Hardy does not).
  • Neal wonders if the Twins would pursue Joel Hanrahan in a potential Hardy deal with Pittsburgh. It's a logical target, but we heard earlier today that any return for Hanrahan or Evan Meek would need to be "very significant." One year of Hardy doesn't fit that bill if you ask me.
  • Smith told Neal that he doesn't think the ship on Carl Pavano has sailed. Pavano and agent Tom O'Connell are in no hurry to sign, though Neal mentions that Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony was supposed to meet with O'Connell today.
  • Justin Morneau's doctor doesn't think there's any doubt that he'll be ready to take the field in Spring Training. Morneau was enjoying perhaps the best season in all of MLB prior to suffering a concussion just before the All-Star Break.
  • Another injured Twins All-Star, Joe Nathan, is making strong progress in his return. The Twins tendered Matt Capps a contract this past week, likely as insurance for the ninth inning should Nathan not be ready early on in 2011. Even with a healthy Nathan, Minnesota's bullpen needs some work, as four of their relievers are hitting free agency.
  • Neal doesn't think the Twins have a chance to bring back Jesse Crain or Matt Guerrier in 2011. Both relievers have been connected to multiple teams. Neither will cost a draft pick to sign.
  • Neal heard that the Twins have some interest in Sean White, though he cautions that he's checking to see if that rumor is still current.

Odds & Ends: Nishioka, Uggla, Soriano, Wigginton

The typical Winter Meetings barrage of links…

Odds & Ends: Alexei Ramirez, Crawford, Hall

Five years ago today, the Blue Jays signed closer B.J. Ryan to a five-year, $47MM deal, the largest ever for a reliever (the contract was later matched in total by Joe Nathan).  Ryan gave the Jays two solid seasons, earning his release in '09.  Today's links:

Cafardo On Gonzalez, V-Mart, Rangers, Nishioka

Let's take a look at the latest from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe….

  • Cafardo suggests the money the Red Sox could have spent on Victor Martinez may be used to make a bigger splash. He speculates that splash could involve trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing him to an extension, but ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider-only link) still expects the Padres to begin the 2011 season with Gonzalez on their roster.
  • One National League GM on Boston deciding not to match the Tigers' offer for Martinez: "He really rakes lefthanded pitching. That was the strange thing about the Red Sox for me — that in a division where there are so many good lefthanded pitchers, Martinez hit them at a .400 clip [in 2010]. Big, big loss for the Red Sox."
  • One option the Rangers are discussing internally, in the event they can't sign Cliff Lee, is moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation and signing a closer such as Rafael Soriano.
  • Olney reported earlier this week that rival executives view the Rangers as the team with the best shot at acquiring Zack Greinke. Cafardo hears the same thing, noting that Engel Beltre is "often mentioned as trade bait."
  • As we heard when the Twins won the bidding for Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the Red Sox were also involved. According to Cafardo, Boston's bid was about $2.3MM, and their interest in the Japanese shortstop was "marginal." With Jed Lowrie and Jose Iglesias already in the organization, Nishioka didn't make a ton of sense for the club.
  • Cafardo expects the Padres, Red Sox, or Indians to hire Josh Byrnes in the near future.

Twins Rumors: Nishioka, Hardy, De Los Santos

The Twins won the bidding for Tsuyoshi Nishioka earlier today. Here's the latest on the infielder and his impact on Minnesota's offseason plans:

  • The Twins see Nishioka as a second baseman rather than a shortstop, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. If the team agrees to sign the 26-year-old, he'll likely compete with Alexi Casilla for the second base job and Orlando Hudson will likely leave via free agency.
  • From what Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune can tell, the Twins have decided to tender J.J. Hardy  a contract next week, partly since he still appears to have trade value (Twitter link).
  • The Twins removed shortstop Estarlin De Los Santos from the 40-man roster and, after he cleared waivers, assigned him to Triple-A, according to Christensen (on Twitter).

Twins Win Bidding For Nishioka

The Twins won the bidding for Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Christensen hears that the Twins won with a $5MM bid, but a source estimated to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Twins bid roughly $5.3MM (Twitter link). The Twins now have 30 days to work out an agreement with the 26-year-old. If the sides do not reach an agreement, the Chiba Lotte Marines will not receive the posting fee.

The GiantsDodgers, and Cardinals reportedly had some interest in Nishioka and the Red Sox submitted a bid in the mid-$2MM range, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Last year, the switch-hitter batted .346 with 22 steals and 206 hits. ESPN.com's Keith Law and Patrick Newman of FanGraphs recently explained Nishioka's game in more detail.

The Twins' middle infield is in flux. They could consider trading non-tender candidate J.J. Hardy and Orlando Hudson is a free agent. Hudson could accept the team's offer of arbitration and return to Minnesota on a one-year deal or decline in search for a multi-year deal on the open market. 

Chiba Lotte Will Accept High Bid For Nishioka

The Chiba Lotte Marines have announced that they will accept the high bid for infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka's negotiating rights, tweets Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune. The high bidder will likely be announced tomorrow, according to a second Christensen tweet

Accepting the high bid is just one step in the process; whichever team won the bidding will have 30 days to work out a contract with Nishioka, not exactly a given as we've seen with Hisashi Iwakuma. The Twins are said to be "very much in on" Nishioka, though the Orioles and Padres did not submit bids. The Giants, Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cardinals were said to be uncertain about pursuing him.

The 26-year-old shortstop hit .346/.423/.482 with 11 homers and 22 steals this season, though it was by far the best season of his career. In parts of eight seasons with Chiba Lotte, Nishioka is a .293/.364/.426 hitter. ESPN's Keith Law (Insider req'd) called him "valuable as an everyday guy on a second-division club," while NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman sees him as a Ryan Theriot/Chone Figgins type.