Twins, infielder Nishioka close to deal

Published Dec. 16, 2010 12:00 a.m. ET

Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka will be in Minnesota on Thursday for a physical, the strongest sign yet that a deal between him and the Twins is near.

The two sides are “very close” to an agreement, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

The Twins won exclusive negotiating rights to Nishioka through the posting process last month, bidding about $5.3 million, sources said.

Nishioka, 26, won the Japanese batting title last season with a .346 average. The Twins will use him at either shortstop or second, with Alexi Casilla manning the other position.

The Twins are expected to sign Nishioka to a three-year contract worth between $3 million and $5 million per season.