MINNEAPOLIS – Infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka and the Minnesota Twins have agreed to a three-year, $9 million contract with a club option for 2014, the American League club announced Friday.
The Twins and Nishioka, who arrived in Minneapolis from Japan on Thursday, finalized the deal after he passed his physical. The club said it would introduce the 26-year-old switch hitter on Saturday. He will fill one of the middle infield roles while adding speed to the lineup.
“Everything has gone smoothly. I want to feel good and pour all my strength into this team,” said Nishioka.
“The facilities are fantastic and the locker room was beautiful,” Nishioka said after being shown around Target Field. “I feel it’s an honor to play at such a place. I am happy.”
The Chiba Lotte Marines will receive the posting fee valued at $5.3 million, according to a source.
The Twins won the exclusive right late last month to negotiate a contract with Nishioka as the highest bidder under the posting system. The two sides had until Dec. 26 to finalize the deal during a 30-day negotiating period.
Nishioka figured into the Twins offseason plans to add offensive speed. The reigning division champions of the American League Central stole 68 bases this past season, tied with the Boston Red Sox for the second lowest in the American League.
His chances of starting improved last week when the Twins traded shortstop J.J. Hardy to the Baltimore Orioles. The club also parted ways with second baseman Orlando Hudson, leaving Nishioka and infielder Alexi Casilla to take over the middle infield.
Nishioka played shortstop and second base for Lotte, but Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has not yet decided which position the three-time Golden Glove winner will play.
Kobayashi on move
CHIBA (Kyodo) Free agent Hiroyuki Kobayashi expects to sign with a major league team by mid-January, the former Chiba Lotte Marines hurler said Friday.
Speaking at Chiba Marine Stadium where he was clearing out his locker, the 32-year-old Kobayashi said he should know where he will play next season shortly into the new year.
Kobayashi will start his offseason workouts next month in Okinawa with former teammate Saburo Omura.
“I think I’ll know by then,” he said. “I’m not in any hurry.
In his first season after being converted to a closer, Kobayashi was third in the Pacific League with 29 saves and a 2.21 ERA for the Japan Series champions.
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