It was almost exactly a year ago – last December 11, to be exact — that the Yankees won the bidding for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. They were willing to pay a $2 million posting fee for a guy they believed could hit a little bit and might have enough glove to play all over the infield. Things were so quiet at this time last year that Nakajima actually got quite a bit of coverage considering he’d never played in the U.S. and was generally viewed as a big league backup if things went well.
Of course, the Yankees never reached an agreement with Nakajima and he faded away by mid-January.
Now Nakajima is an unrestricted free agent, and we might finally see whether he can play in the big leagues. Ken Rosenthal reports that Oakland is close to a deal with Nakajima, and given the A’s thin infield, he could very well be their starting shortstop on Opening Day.
Nakajima’s desire to play everyday was thought to be a significant factor in the Yankees not being able to sign him in the first place. Not sure the Yankees actually missed out on anything here, but it will be interesting to see what kind of player he is at this level.