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.

Anibal Sanchez accepts optional assignment to Triple-A

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The Tigers announced on Monday that pitcher Anibal Sanchez has accepted an optional assignment to Triple-A Toledo. Pitcher Warwick Saupold was recalled from Toledo to take Sanchez’s roster spot.

Sanchez, 33, continued to struggle this season pitching out of the bullpen. He gave up 26 runs (21 earned) on 34 hits and nine walks with 22 strikeouts in 21 innings. Nine of those 34 hits were home runs. Sanchez finished the 2015 season with a 4.99 ERA and last season with a 5.87 ERA, so he’s had a rough go of it in recent years.

The decision to go to Triple-A was Sanchez’s, Anthony Fenech of the Free Press reports. Sanchez wants to be stretched out as a starting pitcher again.

Braves release James Loney

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Just a few days after inking him to a minor league deal, the Braves have released first baseman James Loney, the team announced on Monday. Loney became expendable when the Braves acquired Matt Adams from the Cardinals on Saturday as a replacement for the injured Freddie Freeman.

Loney, 33, appeared in two games at Triple-A Gwinnett. He had one hit, a single, and one walk in eight plate appearances.

Loney will likely have to wait for another team to deal with an injured first baseman or DH before he can secure another contract.