UPDATE II: Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston was told by a Red Sox official that they did not post a bid for Nakajima. That makes three denials, if you include the Giants and Brewers. Does anybody want this guy? We’ll soon find out.
UPDATE: Nothing confirmed yet, but Sponichi indicates that the Red Sox may have the top bid for Nakajima. We should know officially within the next 24 hours.
12:15 PM: Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along word from the Japanese media that the Seibu Lions will accept the highest bid for Hiroyuki Nakajima and that an official announcement is expected tomorrow.
If the highest bid is indeed accepted, the winning team will be granted an exclusive 30-day negotiating window to agree on a contract.
No word on who may have submitted a bid, but the Giants and Brewers have been ruled out. Mets manager Terry Collins hinted last night that he would love to have Nakajima in his lineup, though that was likely some wishful thinking on his part after losing shortstop Jose Reyes to the Marlins.
Nakajima, a 29-year-old shortstop, is a .302 career hitter in Japan and has surpassed at least 16 home runs and 15 stolen bases in each of the last four seasons. He batted .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs, 100 RBI and 21 stolen bases this past season.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.