According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Chiba Lotte Marines announced Friday (Japan time) that an MLB club has won exclusive negotiating rights with shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka.
Chiba Lotte simply accepted the highest bid. But they won’t announce that highest-bidding team until “a later date.”
Nishioka won the batting title in Nippon Professional Baseball this year with a .346 batting average and has been courted by several organizations state-side, including the Twins, Mariners, Orioles and Red Sox.
The Twins were thought of as the front-runners as recently as a week ago, but any team could have swooped in and out-bid the rest. Chiba Lotte should reveal more information over the weekend or some time early next week.
The team that won Nishioka’s negotiating rights will have the next 30 days to work out a contract. No word yet on what the middle infielder might be asking.
UPDATE: Christensen says the winning club will likely be revealed Friday (US time).