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 AM: Ken 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.