Something you may have missed — and further overshadowed by the hysteria of the Zack Greinke trade this morning — the Twins officially introduced Tsuyoshi Nishioka at Target Field yesterday.
The Twins signed Nishioka to a three-year, $9.25 million contract with a club option for 2014. He’ll be paid $3 million in each of the next three seasons. The option for 2014 is worth $4 million and contains a $250,000 buyout. The Twins secured exclusive negotiating rights with Nishioka by submitting a winning bid of $5,329,000, so they spent right around $15 million (or $14.829 million, to be exact) in order to sign him.
While Nishioka played shortstop in Japan, there has been speculation that he could be moved to second base stateside. The 26-year-old infielder told reporters (with a dose of humor) that he does not have a preference.
“I’m still a rookie here. I don’t think I have any say here or have a preference in playing second base or shortstop,” he said through his translator. “I’m preparing for both. I’ll do whatever the manager tells me. If the manager wants me to be a ballboy, I’ll do that as well.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters that he plans to wait until spring training to decide where Nishioka and Alexi Casilla will play.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.
Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.
Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.