Oakland A’s sign Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima

by Bill Chuck on December 18, 2012

The Oakland A’s filled their shortstop slot by agreeing to terms with Hiroyuki Nakajima. The 30-year old reportedly agreed to a two-year contract for $13 million with a club option for a third season at $5.5 million. Last offseason, the New York Yankees won the rights to negotiate with Nakajima with a $2 million bid, but they couldn’t come to terms and he decided to play in Japan for another season.

The A’s had hoped to retain Stephen Drew, but Drew took his pillow and agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox for a reported $9.5 million plus incentives.

During the past six seasons with the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Japanese Pacific League, Nakajima has hit .310 with a .381 on-base percentage. Last season, the right-handed-hitting Nakajima had a .311 batting average and .382 OBP in 136 games with 13 homers and 74 RBI. He has hit 20 or more homers in four different seasons for Seibu, and also drove in 100 runs in 2011. He is a seven-time Nippon Professional Baseball all-star and he won Japanese league Gold Glove at shortstop in 2008 and 2011.

Nakajima also played a major role as the starting shortstop on Japan’s World Baseball Classic team that won the gold medal in 2009. Batting second behind Ichiro Suzuki, he hit .364 with a .516 on-base percentage.

The A’s believe their shortstop of the future is 19-year-old Addison Russell, their top 2012 draft pick.

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