According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Chiba Lotte Marines announced Friday (Japan time) that an MLB club has won exclusive negotiating rights with shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
Chiba Lotte simply accepted the highest bid. But they won’t announce that highest-bidding team until “a later date.”
Nishioka won the batting title in Nippon Professional Baseball this year with a .346 batting average and has been courted by several organizations state-side, including the Twins, Mariners, Orioles and Red Sox.
The Twins were thought of as the front-runners as recently as a week ago, but any team could have swooped in and out-bid the rest. Chiba Lotte should reveal more information over the weekend or some time early next week.
The team that won Nishioka’s negotiating rights will have the next 30 days to work out a contract. No word yet on what the middle infielder might be asking.
UPDATE: Christensen says the winning club will likely be revealed Friday (US time).
The substance of the report is not shocking. Francisco Lindor is one of baseball’s brightest young stars and the Cleveland Indians would, no doubt, wish to lock him up for an extended period of time. The surprising part is the guy who reported that, yes, the Indians are working to get Lindor a seven-year extension.
That guy: six-year-old Brody Chernoff, son of Indians general manager Mike Chernoff. Brody was invited into the team’s broadcast booth during the ninth inning of their game against the Chicago White Sox. Indians announcer Tom Hamilton asked, no doubt jokingly, if his working on anything interesting. Brody:
“He’s trying to get, um, Lindor to play for seven more years,”
Again, not shocking. It would’ve been way worse if Brody had said “Dad’s working on a three-way deal that’ll send Naquin to an NL team in order to affect a three-way trade that’ll land us Verlander without having to deal directly with a divisional rival.” But I imagine Dad still would’ve preferred he not mention that.
Bill Whitehead of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that the Braves have signed reliever David Hernandez to a minor league contract on Sunday. He’ll report to spring training as a non-roster invitee.
Hernandez, who turns 32 years old in May, signed a minor league contract with the Giants in February. He requested and was granted his release on Friday when he learned he wasn’t making the team’s 25-man roster to open the season.
Hernandez pitched for the Phillies last year. He compiled a 3.84 ERA with an 80/32 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.