Our “Hiro” is here! In a rather shocking turn of events the A’s have agreed to terms with Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima on a 2 year contract for $6.5 million with a $5.5 million option for 2015. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports first indicated that a deal was near. It was just a couple hours before that Susan Slusser had said that it was likely that the Oakland Athletics would explore the trade market for their 2013 starting shortstop. I wrote earlier today about the disappointment and frustration this news created, it appeared that the A’s were serious about bottom feeding to acquire their next shortstop. The entire Athletics fan base breathed a collective sigh of relief as the news began to trickle out about Nakajima coming to Oakland.
It’s hard to tell at this point whether the A’s had told Nakajima and his camp that they were waiting on Drew’s decision before making a move, or if they were going after him all along and it just came together the same day Drew chose Boston. Drew was after the money, but Nakajima was after the best situation, and he found it. As many of you know last year he was posted and negotiating rights were awarded to the New York Yankees who envisioned him as a fill-in/utility player. That didn’t work with him so he headed back to the Seibu Lions. So this offseason when he was a free agent, the suddenly “shortstop-less” A’s seemed like a perfect fit. He and his camp apparently agreed.
This is quite the bargain for the Athletics, Stephen Drew signed for a guaranteed $9.5 million this year and Nakajima will make just over a third of that amount. The notion that Stephen Drew will outproduce Nakajima by enough to be $6 million more valuable is very hard to believe, unless you’re the Boston Red Sox of course.
Aside from his clear talent based on his numbers, if you watch some of the various YouTube videos showing highlights of Nakajima’s career in Japan it’s clear the man has serious swagger. We all saw Yoenis Cespedes ruffle a few feathers by admiring his handy work as the ball sailed over the wall. Nakajima does his fair share of admiring as well, although he doesn’t have quite the distance Cespedes does on his longballs.
Nakajima will likely mesh well with this team, and his charisma will only add to the team chemistry in 2013. In a matter of hours I went from feeling a little less confident about the A’s prospects in 2013 without a solid shortstop, to feeling good about next season once again with Nakajima in the fold. Spring Training can’t come soon enough.
One of the best of the aforementioned YouTube videos can be seen here, complete with Japanese pop soundtrack!