According to Tim Kurkjian of ESPN.com, the Chiba Lotte Marines are posting infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka for MLB teams this week.
Nishioka, 26, led the Pacific League with a .346 batting average, 121 runs scored and 206 hits this past season. His hit total established a club record and were the most in the Pacific League since Ichiro Suzuki had 210 in 1994. The switch-hitter has reached double-digits in homers in each of the past three seasons and 20 or more stolen bases in five out of his last six.
Here’s a quick scouting report from ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, who saw Nishioka first-hand when he managed the Marines.
“He is a good player, he is a talented kid. If he had been a college kid four or five years ago, he would have been a first-round pick. He runs faster than a lot of people. He can get a hit. He can steal a base. He can bunt. He is still developing physically and mentally. And this year, he stayed healthy all year. He has style issues, positive and negative: he likes to be noticed. How he develops will depend on what team signs him.”
Nishioka has primarily played shortstop during his time in Japan, though Valentine suggests that he might be better suited for second base in the United States. There’s not much out there in the free agent market as far as middle infielders are concerned, so it will be interesting to see who submits bids this week.
Free agent left-hander Wade Miley is among several offseason targets for the Twins, according to a report from Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Miley’s $12 million option was declined by the Orioles back in November, and while he’s expected to attract another major league deal in 2018, he hasn’t exactly been highly sought after this offseason.
The 31-year-old lefty finished his second campaign with the Orioles in 2017, producing an 8-15 record in 32 starts and ranking second-to-last among all AL starters with a 5.61 ERA, 5.3 BB/9 and 8.1 SO/9 in 157 1/3 innings. Even taking Miley’s undeniable durability into account — he remained healthy for the bulk of the season and completed his sixth straight year with 30+ starts — his declining value and career-worst numbers may lower his price tag as the 2018 season approaches.
Wolfson notes that the Twins have engaged in “regular dialogue” with Miley’s agent this winter, but he’s far from the only starting pitcher they have their eye on. Right-handers Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Chris Tillman are still on their radar, among several others, and club owner Jim Pohlad said Saturday that he was “totally on board” with the idea of signing a big-name free agent like Darvish or another available starter. “There are some interesting names and some interesting opportunities there,” Pohlad told a crowd at TwinsFest. “I’m as intrigued by it as anybody and attracted to it as anybody.”