Tsuyoshi Nishioka was released by the Twins last week after agreeing to forfeit the remaining $3.25 million on his contract and now Sankei Sports in Japan reports that he’s already “agreed in principle” to a deal with the Hanshin Tigers.
Nishioka was a massive flop for the Twins, hitting .215 with zero power and terrible defense at both shortstop and second base, but in 2010 he was a .346-hitting, Gold Glove-winning star in Japan and is still just 28 years old.
No word yet on how much Nishioka’s deal in Japan would be worth, but it won’t be surprising if he recoups that $3.25 million and then some in returning home. He played eight seasons for the Chiba Lotte Marines before signing a three-year, $9.25 million contract with Minnesota that also required the Twins spending another $5.3 million on his negotiating rights.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.