Chiba Lotte chooses highest bid on Tsuyoshi Nishioka

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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).

Royals sign Clay Buchholz to minor league deal

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Royals have signed pitcher Clay Buchholz to a minor league deal. Buchholz will earn a $1.5 million salary if he makes the club’s major league roster and can earn an additional $250,000 through incentives. Buchholz has an opt-out date set for May 1, which means if he isn’t on the Royals’ 25-man roster by then, he can request his release.

Buchholz, 33, was acquired by the Phillies from the Red Sox in December 2016, but he made only two starts before an MRI revealed he had a partial tear of his right flexor pronator mass. He underwent surgery in April and missed the rest of the season.

The Royals recently lost Jesse Hahn, who was diagnosed with a sprained right UCL. Buchholz would likely be in consideration for a rotation spot if another starter were to suffer an injury. Presently, the Royals’ rotation appears set with Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel, Jake Junis, and Nate Karns.