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.
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.