MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins have signed former Japanese League player Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Sources are reporting the Twins offered Nishioka a deal that will be “guaranteed in the neighborhood” of $10 million over three years. The Twins must pay a $5 million posting fee which means the club will have spent upwards of $15 million on their new addition. The 26-year old Nishioka was the motivating factor behind the Twins decision to trade shortstop J.J Hardy to the Orioles earlier last week. It is expected that Nishioka will play second base and Alexi Casilla will move to shortstop.
Signing Nishioka is perhaps the most brilliant move the Twins have pulled off in a long while. The batting order has been in some serious need of consistent hitter and Nishioka may be able to provide that. He won Japan’s Pacific League batting title this season while reaching base 287 times. Although Hardy had upside when he was traded here last season, he never really panned out the way anyone had hoped. Whether is was nagging injuries or the severe inconsistency at the plate, it became apparent as the season went on that Hardy was, in fact, not the long term answer the Twins were looking for and was not the missing piece to the infield. Hardy was on base a total of 134 times versus Nishioka’s 287. The Twins needed to sign Nishioka even before the White Sox went on a spending spree, but especially need it now that they have. The Twins were in dire need of some kind of help in the infield and will get that with Nishioka. The results may be slow to come however; with the exception of Danny Valencia, none of the Twins infield remained in the lineup consistently. Justin Morneau missed practically the whole season last year due to a concussion, Alexi Casilla was a back up to Orlando Hudson and Nishioka has never played an inning in the Majors. The addition of the 26-year old is something that should whet the appetites of Twins fans and bodes well for the results of the upcoming season.