Yanks talking to Nakajima, but not close to deal

Five stages of grief over a $189 million payroll
Open Thread: Kevin Brown

Via David Waldstein, Brian Cashman has said that he is currently negotiating with the agent for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, but the two sides aren’t close to a deal yet. The Yankees won Nakajima’s negotiating rights with a $2.5M bid last week, and the 29-year-old is likely to sign. I suspect that talks won’t get serious until after the holidays, at which point they’ll have about two weeks to hammer out a deal.

In other Nakajima news, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS system projects a .276/.322/.389 batting line for him next season (89 OPS+), adjusting for Yankee Stadium. That’s after he hit .306/.379/.478 with an average of 19.3 homers and 18.7 stolen bases over the last three seasons with the Seibu Lions. For comparison’s sake, Eduardo Nunez hit .265/.313/.385 with 22 stolen bases this past season. Like the Yankees have been saying, Nakajima’s a utility guy.

Five stages of grief over a $189 million payroll
Open Thread: Kevin Brown
  • the other Steve S.

    Whats the point. Trade Nunez?

    • the other Steve S.

      Damn, now that I set my beer down and think about it, they could have used that money to retain Brackman.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        My guess is they value his defense. Nunez could be part of a trade or stick around as the other utility IF, negating the need for a Chavez-type.

        But yea, his contract will probably be around what they would have paid Brackman!

      • Ted Nelson

        They might be proven wrong, but I can see why the Yankees would think Brackman is worth less than a utility IF.

        • Ted Nelson

          Not that they pay the fee unless they sign him.

      • Slugger27

        i see it the other way. if hypothetically they were presented a trade offer… brackman for a solid utility infielder that can handle all 3 positions, to me thats an easy trade to make.

        based on what we know, its pretty tough to argue brackman is worth more than a solid UTIL guy, assuming nakajima is one.

  • Peter R

    They prob have to show good faith in trying to negotiate a deal so as to not insult the NPB posting system and keep MLB face. Pretty clear the Yanks didn’t mean to win this guy and just posted a bid as a what if case.

    But still, those numbers are decent for a middle infielder on most teams right? Get him and trade Nunez I think.

    • Ted Nelson

      That’s definitely a possibility, the good faith thing.

      Could get him, let him prove himself a little… and then trade him. Less upside than Nunez and probably going to be a lot more expensive. Depends what teams offer for both, of course.

  • RetroRob

    The problem is his reputation is he’s not a good fielder. So now the Yankees will take a guy whose reputation is not for fielding, then ask him to play multiple positions, while learning MLB, and paying him substantially more than MLB minimum. He could, and probably is, a downgrade from Nunez, without his speed, and costing quite a bit more.

    Sure, this could allow the Yankees to package Nunez in a deal, but there is a risk this player won’t provde as much value as Nunez, and as the Yankees are looking to control salary, they’re going to pay more. Not sure what his salary in Japan is, but he’s going to cost several million a year to make the move.

    • MannyGeee

      Funny. A more expensive Nuñez. Not that I put too much faith into ZiPS in international cases. But still

  • Rainbow Connection

    Forget Nakajima. I’d much rather have Chief Nakahoma.

  • Nhat

    He has a little power than Nishioka, but has a ton of strike out. He should be a little Matsui.

  • Paul from Boston

    This is one of those cases where I’m going to hold out hope for more. Recognizing pitches and having gap power with speed isn’t unheard of. Hell, Gardner was supposed to be fringy.

  • John Ya Ya

    I still don’t see him signing for what will amount to a utility player level salary. The Oops Theory seems likely on this one.

    • Ha

      Well, one of his teammate posted a photo on twitter(some people with nakajima), said it’s a bye bye party, seem like he already decided.

  • Brett

    I think its worth noting that Hiroyuki Nakajima was ranked as the 15th best hitter in 2011, despite only having an OPS of .787.

    Before last year, his last 3 years he averaged approx .320/.400/.510 which is a huge discrepancy.

    All this because of a change in baseballs.

    • Ha

      We all know they changed the ball before season start, so yes, his number this year is pretty good actually, but I also think it’s his career year.

      I don’t put too much expect on him. Nunez is younger, more speed, their value look equal to me.(except the face)

    • RetroRob

      Hitting this year in Japan was quite low…1968 low. The league ERA was 2.95. In comparison, the league ERA in MLB in 1968 was 2.98. Not sure why hitting was so depressed this year in Japan (league ERAs were approximately a full run higher in the immediate prior seasons), but it was. His .297 BA and .787 OPS are strong numbers based on the league this year.

      I have a lot of questions about how Nakajima will be used and how his skills and numbers will translate to MLB if indeed the Yankees sign him, but his lower numbers in Japan this year should be viewed in the context that Carl Yastremski’s .301 league-leading AL BA in 1968 is now viewed. (And on the flip side, Darvish’s 1.44 ERA should also be viewed.) Something happened in Japans’s NPB in 2011.

      • Ha

        If yankees want him play multi-positon, that could affect his hitting number. And plus his first year in American.

        A .276/.322/.389 batting line projects is fair to me.

  • Qqqqq

    I’d take a .711 OPS from a utility man, no question. Obviously he’d have a chance to outperform the prediction and be much better, but regardless that’s better offensive production than most starting shortstops give these days.

    I haven’t read much about the erratic throwing arm mentioned, in fact I’ve read his arm is solid, fairly accurate. The complaint I’ve heard is bad range, but anything’s an upgrade over Jeter in that department, so I’ll live with it.

  • PiraPira

    Nakajima’s team just signed Esteban German for $1M so looks like his spot is gone now.

    And apparently he just had his big farewell party will all his friends.

    Even if Yankees can’t work out a deal, i think he will go to US no matter what.

    Seibu Lions can grant him his release if that what he really wants.

    Another NPB player that received no bid just got his release request granted by his team since he really want to try it in the US.

    If that happens then all teams get a chance to sign him or maybe give him a trial before signing.

    What MLB team that has a desperate need for a shortstop?