UPDATE: The Twins have a deal with Tsuyoshi Nishioka

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UPDATE: Heyman says the deal is done: three years, plus an option for “about $10 mil.”  He adds that Nishioka could play second base or shortstop.  Guess it depends on whether the Twins would rather play Alexi Casilla at second or short.

9:30 AM: Heyman says the deal is a three-year deal plus an option year, with the guaranteed money being around $10 million.  That would put it at the low-end of the expected range compared to the posting fee, but maybe that option is favorable for Nishioka.

9:15 AMKen Rosenthal reports that NPB star Tsuyoshi Nishioka is in Minnesota and is “very close” to signing a deal with the Twins. He’s set for a physical today. Given that the Twins bid $5 million for Nishioka’s bidding rights — and given that Japanese players who previously joined MLB teams through the posting process typically got contracts that were close to the posting fee — Nishioka  is expected to receive a multi-year contract worth between $3-5 million per season.

As Aaron has previously observed, it’s not clear what the Twins are getting in Nishioka. Yes,  he won the batting title this year by hitting .346, but that may have been a fluke. Before 2010 he was a career .280 hitter. He batted just .260 in 2009 and he doesn’t have much in the way of power. He’s fast, however, and he’s supposed to have a pretty nifty glove.  Given how thin the shortstop position is in the American League, he could be a nice pickup.

Or he could be Kaz Matsui.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.