The Oakland Athletics have reportedly taken to the international free-agent market to fill their void at shortstop.
CBS' Jon Heyman had the news (via CBS' Matt Snyder):
The Oakland Athletics have filled their hole at shortstop, as they've signed Hiroyuki Nakajima out of Japan, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reports. The A's have issued a press release saying there will be a major announcement Tuesday, so that's likely when they'll officially announce the deal.
San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser made a note regarding the contract details:
It's two years for Nakajima at $6.5 million, and a third year option. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) December 17, 2012
According to Snyder's report, Nakajima had a slash line of .311/.382/.451 last season with the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Japan Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball. He also had 13 home runs, 74 RBI and seven stolen bases.
This move makes sense for the Athletics because of their glaring hole at the position. Andy Parrino is a below-average starter at this point in his career, and Nakajima, at least, provides an upgrade over him in the field.
Even if Nakajima doesn't produce huge numbers at the plate, steady defense and sound play overall are both extremely important to the Athletics' success. Because the team doesn't have many noteworthy names, it relies on the little things to win ballgames.
Snyder's report also notes that Nakajima tested Major League Baseball's waters last season, but he couldn't agree with the New York Yankees after the team posted the highest mark in the bidding process. This year was different, though, because he entered as an international free agent and didn't require a bid.
Pickings are slim in terms of free-agent shortstops this offseason, so this move definitely flies. Nakajima should hit for contact and provide consistent defense behind Oakland's young pitching staff.
As long as he does that, bringing him into the clubhouse will pay dividends.