Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/16/14
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. The most recent Japanese midle infielder to come to America was Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who signed with the Twins before the 2011 season. In Nishioka's age 25 season in Japan, he posted a .346/.423/.482 line, homering 11 times with 22 stolen bases and 79 walks. His career in America lasted 71 games over two seasons, with the overmatched Nishioka OPSing .503 with no homers and two stolen bases. Now, I'm not saying that's going to happen with Nakajima, but it's not as if there is a long history of success with Japanese middle infielders coming to the MLB. Nishioka was younger than Nakajima, had a more attractive overall statline, and flopped hard. Comparing Tadahito Iguchi and Kaz Matsui to Nakajima is even more damning to him. Iguchi was a consistent 20 homer threat with 40 steal speed, while Matsui was a solid 20/20 player. Matsui came to the MLB at age 28, while Iguchi came over at 30. Iguchi had a pair of solid seasons for the White Sox before falling off a cliff at 33 and heading back to Japan, while Matsui had a much-maligned career with the Mets before blossoming into a solid hitter for a couple of seasons and returning to the NPB. It's a really tricky situation for the A's, because there is nothing set in stone for how Nakajima will perform. The A's can't gauge his performance like they would a minor leaguer because the track record for Japanese infielders coming to the MLB is so brief. Nakajima could be a disaster for the A's like Nishioka was with the Twins. Or, he could put together a solid season like Iguchi did with the White Sox before falling off a cliff. But based on Nakajima's age, his track record, and the questions about his position, I think this move has a bigger chance of going bust for the A's than it has for going boom. However, in a world where Stephen Drew gets $9.5 million guaranteed for one year after a season where he played 79 games with a .657 OPS, maybe Nakajima for $6.5 million over two years is the best possible option for the financially-strapped A's. [follow]
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: 49ers looking for young, offensive mind as next coach

Sheldon Richardson: I'm on the same level as JJ Watt

Kendrick Perkins: Rajon Rondo wanted out of Boston

Report: Jim Harbaugh being encouraged to take Michigan job

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Wolves trade Corey Brewer to the Rockets

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Yankees trade Prado to Marlins for Eovaldi in 5-player deal

Brandon Browner fined $8K for throwing Brandon Gibson to turf

Report: Sharper, NFLers called spiked drinks 'horny juice'

Rex Ryan: My wife could coach Tom Brady

Jim Harbaugh won in laser tag by 'hunting' 10-year-old kid

Eddie Lacy is ‘very blind,’ refuses to wear goggles

UNC wearing Jordan-era throwback uniforms

Brian Kelly: Justin Brent gets 'distracted,' is in my doghouse

Five free agent signings that should happen in 2015

Reporter asks Rajon Rondo awkward question about trade

Video: Swaggy P elbows Steven Adams in throat, gets ejected

Video: Grizzlies buy car for assistant who had his stolen

Video: LeBron takes pass to the face from Dion Waiters

New video of Ray Rice incident emerges

President Obama calls James Franco “James Flacco”

NBA games of the weekend: Rondo's Dallas debut, Bulls-Grizz

Tuscaloosa students will have two days off if Bama plays in National Championship

Brady scares the **** out of his teammates celebrating

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Reporter asks Rondo awkward question

Three quarterbacks who could be traded this offseason

Jon Lester and the Cubs

Report: NFL players used 'horny juice'

Top 10 worst NBA related commercials of all-time

Phelps gets probation for DUI

NFL coaches on hot seat in Week 16

The Roy Williams-Terrell Owens horse collar turns 10

Most underpaid NFL players in 2014

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.