It’s official: Yanks fail to sign Hiroyuki Nakajima


(Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The Yankees announced that they’ve failed to come to terms on a contract with Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. “We unfortunately could not come to an agreement with Hiroyuki,” said Brian Cashman in a press release. “We wish him the best of luck during the upcoming 2012 season.”

We heard the two sides were unlikely to reach an agreement before tomorrow’s deadline just yesterday. Since no deal was reached, the Yankees don’t have to pay the $2.5M posting fee they used to win the 29-year-old infielder’s negotiating rights last month. Jack Curry says they offered a one-year deal and nothing more, reiterating that they viewed him as a bench player. Cashman and the Yankees seemed surprised that they won the bid last month, and it’s fair to assume no other club viewed him as a starter given the lack of a significant bid.

Nakajima hit .297/.354/.433 with 16 homers and 21 steals for the Seibu Lions in 2011, and he’s consistently been a .300 average/15+ homer/15+ steal/50+ walk guy in his career. That was before the new ball drained all of the offense out of Nippon Pro Baseball, however. Nakajima played short exclusively over the last few seasons, and although he expressed interest in signing, he didn’t seem all that enthused about being a reserve. His agent even broached the idea of a sign-and-trade. The infielder will now return to Japan for another year, then become a true free agent next winter.

Categories : Hot Stove League


  1. Cy Pettitte says:

    Cashman shopping list:

    1. Eric Chavez
    2. roll of duct tape

    apparently they only offered Hiroyuki a 1 yr deal. glad they didn’t just give him like 3 yrs, he obviously has little value based on he posting.

    • BK2ATL says:

      Or maybe they just realized that with no immediate trades for quality SP to be made which would need to include Nunez, they decided that they already had what Nakajima is, and at a much cheaper price.

  2. Pounder says:

    Eric Chavez come on down.

    • CJ says:

      Yeah let’s do Chavez Garcia and bart colon and see if they can do it again. Where is the market for Chavez? A back up 3b who is on the DL when the starter goes on the DL? No thanks.

  3. BK2ATL says:

    Yeah, next up….Eric Chavez.

    Just thinking out loud. Imagine if this same situation plays out in Arlington, Texas with Yu Darvish….He and his father go down there to scout it out, head back to Japan on the 1st thing smoking, then disappear until after the negotiating period expires….He just goes back to Japan for the next 2 years.

  4. CJ says:

    Stay classy Brian Cashman!

    • Mike Axisa says:

      What exactly did he do wrong?

      • Sayid J. says:

        Yea, i find it funny all of the people saying that Cashman screwed him over by preventing him from signing with a different team. If other teams had wanted him more than the Yankees, they could have outbid the Yankees if they wanted to. Not as if the Yankees bid a posting fee of $25 million and then didn’t offer him a contract just to keep him from signing elsewhere. Given the fact that the winning bid was $2 million, if another team had won the bid, i find it highly unlikely he would have gotten a deal much better than what the Yankees were offering,

      • steve s says:

        Mike, it does seem that the Yanks did not intend to sign this guy from the get-go and it’s not a stretch to think that some may view the Yanks as not having really negotiated in good faith in this instance. If no team posted would Nakajima have become a free agent now instead of a year from now? I would like to see how the Japanese press reports what happened here and if the Yanks image in Japan’s suffers as a result.

        • CJ says:

          Agreed. This was not in good faith.

        • Mike Axisa says:

          If no team submitted a bid, nothing changes. He would have gone back to Japan for another year. The Yankees think he’s a bench player, bid like he’s a bench player, and offered a contract consistent with a bench player. It’s not their fault no one else thought highly enough of Nakajima to bid more.

          • CJ says:

            I have no worries about nakajima not coming to NY. I do think this is an embarrassment as was bidding $15 m for Darvish I would rather he did not bid at all. Cashman can’t be that clueless about the market. He should have a better feel fir competitive bidding and if he chose to stay out of a $50 m bid that’s fine but to submit $15 is a joke.

            • Mister Delaware says:

              And then if Texas and Toronto had ended up abstaining from the big bids as well and someone won with a $12MM safety bid, you’d flip out because Cashman didn’t bid that $15MM.

              • CJ says:

                The Darvish bid was never going to be in the neighborhood of $12-15 m, Have a feel for the market. Everybody knew it would be in dice k territory, he bids 5 million below igawa territory

                • CP says:

                  And everybody knew that the bidding on Nakajima would be $5M+.

                  Oh wait.

                  • CJ says:

                    It’s not the nakajima bid alone. Cashman’s “not at that price” nonsense all winter. This is not something gms usually say let alone repeat it over and over.

                    • Cris Pengiucci says:

                      This is not something gms usually say let alone repeat it over and over.

                      What’s wrong with that? You’re letting players and agents know you’re only interested in a player at your price. If you and your agent don’t feel the Yankees are properly valuing you, you move on. I do the same thing when I try to hire someone to work for me. I’ll ask for what they feel their compensation should be based on role, and I’ll either agree or counter. If we can’t agree, we go our seperate ways. No hard feelings. I don’t see how what Cashman is doing is different.

            • Ted Nelson says:

              I think Cashman knew what Darvish the bids were likely to be. Any moron can google Dice-K to see what the bid was. Do you really think Cashman is that utterly stupid that he cannot use google? I have a feeling their bid was more a statement of how ridiculous the Yankees find the posting process than anything, that they bid what they thought was fair as a statement rather than with any hope of getting Yu. That’s just my speculation and it might be 100% wrong, but I at least think Cashman is smart enough to know $15 million wasn’t going to be the winning bid.

              • CJ says:

                “I have a feeling their bid was more a statement of how ridiculous the Yankees find the posting process than anything, that they bid what they thought was fair as a statement rather than with any hope of getting Yu.”

                Sorry but I don’t think Cashman should be making statements about what he thinks is ridiculous and using the bidding process as his soapbox. That is arrogant and offensive. If Cashamn is out there making “statements” it will turn off other GMs, agents, players, teams and he won’t be able to get any deals done

                • Rick says:

                  Oh man, with this logic the Yankees will never be able to sign another free agent again. Good thing the world ends in a couple months anyway.

            • dan gen says:

              could not say it better myself…we r small market

          • CJ says:

            “If no other team bid” that is a big if. It will help save face rather than ruin the man’s chance to play in MLB

        • Andrew says:

          How is it bad faith exactly, and how do you get the idea that they had no intention of signing him from the get go?

          Bad faith is bidding a ton of money and showing all sorts of interest in a player, and then lowballing the hell out of the contract offer. If the Yankees had bid $50 million for him and then offered him a 1 year deal for a very low salary, you could scream about bad faith. But $2 million is not the kind of bid where Nakajima or his club should be shocked and offended when the negotiations don’t result in a big payday.

          They had enough interest in signing him to submit a bid, and acknowledged from early on through the media that they viewed him as a bench player. Seems like they offered him money+years commensurate with being a bench player. He didn’t want that, so he stays in Japan.

          Nothing reads like bad faith in that, it just seems like an unsuccessful negotiation.

          • CJ says:

            How many professional players from japan signed a 1 year deal to leave their country?

            • vin says:

              Since mistakes were made in the past (by NYY and others), Cashman should be required to repeat history?

              • CJ says:

                Then stay out of bidding. Cashman is not going to rewrite the rules of the Japanese bidding process

                • Mike Axisa says:

                  I don’t understand, so they’re not allowed to pursue a player they like at a certain price?

                  • CJ says:

                    There is no “certain price” the market is very stable and predictable.even fans come close to predicting contracts and market value there is very rarely a major surprise. It’s not very different from real estate comps.

            • Andrew says:

              How many professional players from Japan that came to America immediately profiled as bench guys? Players to post have largely been targeted as starters by the teams bidding for their services. The Yankees won with $2 million, in your hypothetical they should just not have bid since they “in bad faith” offered him only 1 year. Had another team hypothetically won rights to negotiate with him, and had bid less than $2 million, that now guarantees they would have offered him more guaranteed years and money than the Yankees did? I don’t know how you can make that conclusion.

            • MattG says:

              And how have the contracts for those players compared with their bids? I believe the bids paid to the Japanese teams actually outpace the contracts. Therefore, if $2M was the winning bid, it would be logical that the contract value should be less than $2M.

              Cashman isn’t going to rewrite the rules of the Japanese bidding process (haven’t I seen that somewhere before?)

            • Rick says:

              According to all of the reports, the Yankees were up front with him about how they viewed him. If anything, it was good faith on their behalf to only offer him a 1 year deal so that he could get adjusted to America and then become a FA the year after, just like he would if he stayed in Japan. They told him they viewed him as a bench player from the get-go. Sorry he wasn’t happy about it and neither are you.

      • CJ says:

        This is not Storage Wars.
        He should not have bid if he was not serious. It shows a lack of etiquette and professionalism.

        • AndrewYF says:

          He was serious about signing him to a deal at a certain price. Nakajima did not agree to sign for that price. That’s it.

          • CJ says:

            Have a clue for what “that price” is before you enter in negotiations or bidding. Call boras and offer 2/20 for prince fielder. Go to a Porsche dealership and offer 20K for a new car, you can do it, you waste your time and theirs and look like a fool in the process.

            • Mister Delaware says:

              What was Nakajima asking for? Dollars and years?

              • MattG says:

                CJ doesn’t know, but he thinks Cashman should have.

                Except Cashman could not have known either. To know before the bidding process would have been tampering.

                Cashman’s job is to explore every avenue available to him to improve the team. This is him doing his job.

                • Andrew says:

                  Exactly. It doesn’t work like CJ would want it to through posting. The team can’t approach a player before winning rights to negotiate and ask what his desired contract is. There are ballparks and consensus opinions on what guys project to and what they might be worth as major leaguers, and in this case the Yankees pegged Nakajima as a bench player and offered to pay him as such. The idea that Cashman shouldn’t have gotten involved when looking for a bench piece, despite there being no evidence that any other ML team saw him as anything more (in terms of projections and $ cost) than what the Yankees did, is just looking to criticize for the sake of blaming Cashman.

            • Fernando says:

              Sorry CJ, but Nakajima is more a utility infielder than a Prince Fielder. More Hyundai than Porsche.

              Cashman knows that, so he bid accordingly. I don’t see how this is a lack of etiquette or professionalism on Cashman’s part. He made a bid that he was comfortable with. If he lost out, then so be it.

        • jsbrendog says:

          he was serious. about a bench player. which is what he is viewed as. so cashman bid bench player price based on current market value for the position. no one else bid more (what were the losing bids, were any even close, were there even any others?) he doesnt see himself as a bench player, obviously everyone else does. so too bad for him boohoo. nothing wrong. you have some weird twisted cashman hate.

        • Brian says:

          So if two sides are unable to reach a deal then one party “acted in bad faith?”. I guess a vast majority of negotiations are done in bad faith around the world

        • Hikker says:


      • pat says:

        CJ is just mad nobody responded to this same comment when he posted it yesterday. That way when people respond negatively he can call them all blind Cashman lovers.

        • CJ says:

          Why do we read “Cubs want montero and banuelos for garza” that is not a serious negotiation. I suspect cashman is making insulting offers the other way. He is becoming “that guy” in your fantasy league with the insulting trade proposals.

          • Mike Axisa says:

            Glad you determined that based on no facts. Keep playing make believe.

            • CJ says:

              None of us have these facts. We are left to speculate.
              We know Darvish and nakajima bids were way off the mark
              Why isn’t it reasonable to suspect his trade proposals are equally as far off?
              I can’t see the cubs realistically expecting to get montero and a b for garza, why is that the rumored asking price? It may be as high as brian s offer is low.

              • Mike Axisa says:

                I can’t see the cubs realistically expecting to get montero and a b for garza, why is that the rumored asking price?

                Tell me why they wouldn’t ask for that given what lesser pitchers were traded for this winter. You’d be terrible at negotiating, do me a favor and never become my agent.

              • CP says:

                We know Darvish and nakajima bids were way off the mark

                No, they were exactly on the mark. They placed bids for a high upside risky starting pitcher and a backup infielder.

                Just because they didn’t win the bidding for Darvish doesn’t mean their bid was off the mark.

                • CJ says:

                  If cashman believed Darvish would go for 15 or nakajima was looking for a 1 year deal, then it’s a real problem. I figured they were cover your ass bids in poor taste.

              • Dave says:

                CJ’s screenname at ESPN is CashmanSux. I don’t think logic is going to work here.

          • pat says:

            You’re right. Starting low in a negotiation is always a good way to get good value. Cubs should be asking for Laird+ Phelps.

        • Rainbow Connection says:

          You seem to be obsessed with CJ.

      • John Ya Ya says:

        No team was going to give this guy a good enough contract to get him to leave Japan anyway. It didn’t matter if the posting were 25¢.

      • dan gen says:

        what did we do fucking right…

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      Over an hour on quite possibly one of the biggest armchair QB/blog commenter reaches I’ve ever seen. So many better things to argue, like the value of flossing.

      The team made a bid according to their interest in the player. They won, perhaps unexpectedly, and it’s impossible to know whether that’s true. The team negotiated with the player according to their interest. It didn’t work out. No animals were harmed in the process. We move on.

      I still cannot bring myself to care less about whether they signed this guy or not.

    • Landry says:

      Please, just go away.

  5. JohnC says:

    Nakajima will be a free agent next year, at which time, he’ll come over here and sign with the Red Sox

    • BK2ATL says:

      I think it’s been stated that he prefers the West Coast. I think that might play into his thinking next year. Seattle, San Fran or San Diego could be options for him. He’d get playing time as a starter in either of those cities.

  6. Monteroisdinero says:

    Sayonara. Chavez will be fine as long as he doesn’t have to run out a double or triple, slide and then head to the dl.

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      Or try to go first to third on a single (or maybe even second to thrid).

      Despite the injury risk, I’m fine with Chavez coming back. I don’t think he’s made of as much glass as Nick Johnson, so there’s a chance he’s somewhat healthy. Hope he proves me right.

  7. If indeed the hang up was 1yr vs multiple years that seems dumb on Nakajima’s part.

    Why not take a 1 year deal and become a FA after 2012. He’ll def see playing time to show his value. Granted, it won’t be as much as he’ll have in Japan, but at least it would be vs ML talent.

    Either way, he would have waited 1 year.

  8. Comfortably Numb says:

    “The Yankees have announced that they have signed Eric Chavez to a contract, and have immediately placed him on the DL.”

  9. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    I am o.k. with Chavez, though I would have preferred someone less fragile. Then again, if healthy he can be an asset (but don’t count on it).

  10. mike_h says:

    not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing. Meaning if we could have included him in a deal to land a pitcher (or Nunez). Either way, I’m happy to get Chavez back pending we strike a deal

  11. Monteroisdinero says:

    Chato time!

  12. Big Boy says:

    I think the Mariners would be a good fit to join the Japanese leagues as an expansion team.

  13. Jose M. Vazquez.. says:

    Yesterday I saw in the news that Andy Carey had died at 80 R.I.P. I believe he spanned the third base position between Bobby Brown (the Cardiologist) and Clete Boyer. He was an excellent fielder but a poor hitter.

  14. Mark L says:

    I don’t think Nakajima was the answer but I will be kind of annoyed when A-Rod and Chavez both end up on the DL and we’re forced to use Ramiro Pena and and Brandon Laird for a month. We need a real backup. It is more of a necessity than a luxury.

    • Steve (different one) says:

      What happened to Nunez?

    • Jumpin' Jack Swisher says:

      Third string options often look like Ramiro Pena and Brandon Laird, or worse. As pointed out below, you probably unintentionally forgot Nunez.

      I’d love to see Chavez back.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s not a guarantee that Brandon Laird can’t be a real backup at the major league level and fill the Chavez role. He’s had decent offensive numbers in his recent minor league career, definitely has obvious shortcomings (no walks, lots of Ks, etc.), but he has had very little run as a part-time player in MLB. I don’t think it’s enough to totally write him off as helping off the bench. I definitely agree with the idea that any consistent playing time for Pena means something has gone wrong, though.

    • pat says:

      So you’re advocating a backup backup corner infielder?

  15. Fernando says:

    Greg Dobbs would have been a good fit for Chavez. He was signed for 2 years and $3M, so it was a good price as well. His slash line was 275/.311/.389 with eight homers, 49 RBI and a .701 OPS over 439 plate appearances. He’s healthier and he handled a larger load when team had injuries. Though he played mostly 3b, he’s also played corner OF and 1B, making him more versatile than Chavez. And he has performed well in his limited playoff experience.

  16. Paul VuvuZuvella says:

    Hiro, we hardly knew ye.

  17. dan gen says:

    are they doing anything to get the fan base excited…?!

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