Yesterday, the Oakland A's signed Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million, with an option for $5.5 million for 2015. Nakajima was posted last year and the bidding was won by the Yankees, who couldn't come to an agreement with him. This winter, the A's got a deal done with the veteran. However, despite Oakland filling their shortstop hole in a bit of an unorthodox manner, I'm not sure that this is going to be a slam dunk like many of their moves in the past.
NPB Tracker profiled Nakajima (along with other potential Japanese free agents), and the opinion was that Nakajima probably didn't have enough range to play a solid shortstop at the major league level. The 30-year old Nakajima is a career .302 hitter in the NPB, and he has solid pop and plate discipline for a middle infielder. Last season, Nakajima hit .311/.382/.451 with 13 homers, seven steals, and 52 walks, a stat line which would make him a fantastic option for an MLB team. However, it's extremely difficult to translate a player's performance in Japan to his potential performance in America. In this fantastic piece from last winter by Seattle Sports Insider, the author breaks down the few middle infielders that have come over to America from Japan.no comments