Twins win bidding rights for Nishioka

Published Nov. 26, 2010 12:00 a.m. ET

The Twins' middle-infield picture just got more interesting.

The team has won the bidding for the right to negotiate with Japanese infielder Tsyuoshi Nishioka, according to a major-league source.

The source estimated the winning bid to be about $5.3 million, but that number is unconfirmed. The Twins must sign Nishioka to a contract within the next 30 days before the fee can be transferred to his Japanese club, the Chiba Lotte Marines.

Nishioka, 26, won the Japanese Pacific League batting title with a .346 average last season, and can play either shortstop or second base.

The Twins are uncertain at both positions.

At short, they're expected to offer a contract to J.J. Hardy, who's entering his final year of arbitration. Yet, the team could trade Hardy if it prefers Nishioka at the position.

At second, the Twins offered arbitration to Orlando Hudson under the condition that he'd decline and remain a free agent. Alexi Casilla currently is the team’s leading internal option at second.


Nishioka's said to be a slap hitter with minimal power and good range. He'll face the usual questions Japanese infielders confront when they move to the majors — pitchers who throw harder and work inside, ballparks with more natural-grass surfaces, opponents who slide aggressively at second base.

Another Japanese infielder, second baseman Kaz Matsui, failed to make sufficient adjustments in seven seasons with the Mets, Rockies and Astros.