NEW YORK (WFAN) – WFAN's Jon Heyman reported Wednesday afternoon that the New York Yankees won exclusive negotiating rights for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. According to Heyman, the winning bid was near $2 million dollars.
The Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants were also rumored to have put in bids for Nakajima but it was the Yankees who earned the chance to sign the 29-year old. Nakajima was a four-time Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star and won the 2008 Japan Series MVP.
Noted for his defense, Nakajima won a shortstop Gold Glove in 2008 and is expected to play a utility infield role for the Yankees in 2012. He is also handy with the bat as he batted .297 with 16 home runs and 100 RBI last season as a member of the Saitama Seibu Lions. Nakajima is fast on the basepaths as he stole 21 bases for the Lions.
American fans will remember him most from the 2009 World Baseball Classic where he batted .364 with a whopping .516 on-base percentage. Nakajima was a key player in helping Japan win the 2009 WBC.
The Yankees now have a 30-day window to sign Nakajima.
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