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.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.