When the Yankees won the right to negotiate with Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, the natural question was, why? He’s not going to replace Derek Jeter, and he might not be an upgrade over Eduardo Nunez, so why go after him?
Partially for depth. Partially because he comes with both tangible and intangible skills. Partially the Yankees believe Nakajima and Nunez both could play a role on the roster. Mostly, though…
“It’s an area for us to pursue talent,” Brian Cashman said on the day the rights were announced. “It’s having access to a middle-of-the-diamond type player, and in this game, that’s becoming rarer and rarer on a yearly basis.”
With Jeter at short and Nunez playing a utility role, is that type of player worth more to the Yankees as a trade chip?
Ken Rosenthal reported last night that Nakajima’s agent has pitched the idea of a sign-and-trade to the Yankees. Rosenthal even mentions the Giants and Cubs as teams interested.
The Yankees could deal Nakajima to another team with a greater need for him, and use that swap to fill an area of obvious need. Now the question is, what would Nakajima bring in return, and how valuable is that additional infield depth for the Yankees?
To be honest, though, this isn’t the first time the idea of a sign-and-trade has been mentioned. It was one of the first questions Cashman was asked after the Yankees won the rights to Nakajima.
“The purpose of this process was not for a sign-and-trade,” Cashman said. “I don’t even know if we can or can’t do that. If we sign him, we plan on adding his talents to this franchise, going to big-league camp and seeing where it takes us.”
By the way, I recommend checking out that Rosenthal article linked above. Lots of good scouting information on Nakajima.