When the Athletics signed Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year, $6.5 million contract over the winter, they were hoping that he would serve as the Opening Day shortstop. However, the 31-year-old has become an afterthought in less than nine months.
Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com notes that the Athletics have outrighted Nakajima to Triple-A Sacramento, thus removing him from the 40-man roster. The thought is that the A’s will use the roster flexibility to add a catcher with John Jaso still sidelined with a concussion.
Nakajima struggled in nearly every phase of the game during spring training before coming down with a hamstring injury. While Jed Lowrie has emerged as the everyday shortstop with the big club, Nakajima has hit .282/.336/.368 with four home runs and 26 RBI in Triple-A.
Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.
The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.
That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.