Yankees, Hiroyuki Nakajima Fail To Reach Agreement


The New York Yankees and Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima failed to reach an agreement.

Hiroyuki Nakajima is a star shortstop in Japan, and early in the offseason he asked the Seibu Lions to post him so he could play Major League Baseball. He likely had designs of being a starting shortstop somewhere, or possibly a second baseman for an interested team. You could almost hear his brow furrow in confusion when it was announced that the New York Yankees won the bidding.

The Yankees are already quite set with their middle infield, and they were looking at Nakajima as a potential utility player. The salary they were offering was likely close to what they would pay for a utility infielder -- the Yankees would have spent a lot more on him than a utility infielder when the posting fee was added in, but Nakajima wouldn't have seen most of that money. Absent a decent contract or a starting role, Nakajima is returning to Japan.

A quick rundown of Nakajima's stats, via Baseball Reference:

2007 24 143 593 12 74 .300 .361 .439 .801
2008 25 124 556 21 81 .331 .410 .527 .937
2009 26 144 648 22 92 .309 .398 .493 .891
2010 27 130 579 20 93 .314 .385 .511 .896
2011 28 144 633 16 100 .297 .354 .433 .787
5 Seasons 685 3009 91 440 .310 .381 .479 .860
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/5/2012.

When you consider that the NPB switched baseballs this year, which led to their version of a 1968-type season, he's been pretty consistent for his career. And while teams might have been spooked by the unimpressive debut season from Tsuyoshi Nishioka, it's worth noting that his stats in Japan were extremely average-dependent -- it was always an imperfect comparison.

If anything, this ordeal has highlighted just how silly the posting rules are. The Yankees didn't do anything wrong -- they had the highest bid, and they were free to offer Nakajima whatever they wanted to pay for the role he would fill. But Nakajima certainly didn't do anything wrong, and now he'll have to wait a year to become an international free agent. Prediction: He doesn't sign with the Yankees next year.

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