Tsuyoshi Nishioka will go down as one of the worst acquisitions in Twins history, but at least the final bill will be a little cheaper than expected.
Nishioka asked the Twins to release him and offered to give back his 2013 salary, so naturally they obliged today and he’s officially a free agent.
He was set to earn another $3.25 million as part of a three-year, $9.25 million contract signed after the Twins paid $5.3 million for Nishioka’s exclusive negotiating rights from Japan. So instead of a $15 million flop he’s now a $12 million flop, and the Twins will have a little more cash to throw around this offseason.
Nishioka ends his Twins career with a .215 batting average and .503 OPS in 71 games–plus some brutally bad defense at shortstop and second base–and spent nearly all of this season at Triple-A. Presumably he’ll head back to Japan, where he hit .346 and won a Glove Glove award in 2010 before signing with the Twins, and at age 28 should be able to recoup that $3.25 million and then some.
Pablo Sandoval could be tabbed to play second base in the near future, per a report from John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. According to Shea, Sandoval has been spotted taking grounders at second during pre-game warm-ups and may be considering switching to the keystone on a part-time basis.
It wouldn’t be the weirdest thing the 31-year-old corner infielder has done this year — that distinction goes to the flawless inning of relief he pitched in a blowout loss against the Dodgers last month. But it would represent a pretty notable departure from his comfort zone even so; Sandoval has primarily manned first and third base throughout his 11-year career in the majors and has also taken a few reps at DH during his resurgence with the Giants in 2018.
Of course, this wouldn’t necessarily be a permanent switch for Sandoval. As Shea points out, the Giants are thin on middle infielders after losing Joe Panik to a torn UCL in his left thumb and backup Alen Hanson to a left hamstring strain. Provided he can get up to speed quickly (no easy feat, according to infield coach Ron Wotus), he’d give the club some added depth behind Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez until Panik is ready to take the field again. Sandoval has impressed at the plate this spring, batting a healthy .270/.329/.429 with six extra-base hits and a .757 through 70 plate appearances.