NASHVILLE, TENN. — According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, A’s officials are slated to meet with the agent for free-agent Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima in Nashville today. It’s an intriguing option for the A’s, who are among several teams scouring a shallow shortstop market — most of which boast bigger payrolls than Oakland, ones that could help land Stephen Drew. The A’s are not out on Drew, but let’s take a look at the lesser known Nakajima:
The 30-year-old shortstop was in negotiations with the Yankees last winter, after New York won posting rights to him. But the Yankees failed to sign Nakajima, who wasn’t so much interested in salary figures as he was playing time, which wasn’t offered to him on an everyday basis — factors that figure to be in play this time around, too. The A’s are likely willing to promise him just that, with utility infielders Adam Rosales and Andy Parrino their only other in-house options at this point.
Nakajima enjoyed a successful 2012 campaign with the Seibu Lions in Japan, where he finished with a line of.311/.382/.451, to go along with 13 home runs. Since 2007, the infielder has averaged 20.5 homers per 162 games, along with a .310 average and .381 on-base percentage. Furthermore, he boasts above-average defensive skills.
Nakajima, who represented Japan at the 2008 Olympics and in the ’09 World Baseball Classic, already met with D-backs officials — also shopping for infield help on the left side — in Arizona in November, though a deal was reportedly never on the table. The D-backs, however, are believed to still be interested in him.
The A’s, meanwhile, figure to be keeping all of their options open, particularly since they’re in no hurry to make a move, and that includes both the free-agent and trade markets.
– Jane Lee
Greetings from Tokyo, where it’s been gloomy and wet since our arrival. Most players, it seems, opted for sleep rather than exploring the city last night – an understandable choice, given the 12-hour flight time and ensuing 90-minute drive to the hotel, along with a 16-hour time change. Many, like myself, couldn’t sleep past 7 a.m., as I’m sure our internal clocks were struggling to adjust, though Tommy Milone should get some kind of award for falling asleep at 10 p.m. and not waking until 8 a.m. “I feel great right now,” he said, grinning.
Milone and Co. are currently taking part in their first workout here at the Tokyo Dome. The Mariners are also here, and a press conference with manager Bob Melvin and a handful of players is to follow shortly. Otherwise, it’s a light day, as both teams prepare for exhibition games the next two days. Read more
Though the A’s are in full rebuilding mode, they may be close to reeling back in a veteran outfielder. According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, Coco Crisp is on the verge of resigning with Oakland, for whom he hit .264 with eight home runs and a career-high 49 steals in 136 games last year.
Crisp’s desire to join a winning ball club on a multiyear deal has been well-documented, but so has his want to remain on the West Coast, given his California roots. At one point he was heavily linked to the Giants, another time the Cardinals, and on Monday evening it was the Orioles who were reportedly in on the center fielder. But if Bowden’s report holds true, the A’s would add experienced depth to what right now is an unproven outfield boasting the likes of Michael Taylor, Collin Cowgill and Josh Reddick.
– Jane Lee
A deal that was to send A’s right-hander Rich Harden to the Red Sox in exchange for two Minor Leaguers, one that appeared close to being finalized on Saturday evening, is no more.
“I just spoke with [general manager] Billy [Beane], and he says I’m an A and I’m starting Tuesday in Seattle,” Harden said late Saturday after Oakland’s 8-3 win over Minnesota.
Hours earlier, the A’s it seemed were finally entering play in a bustling trade scene, with a Major League source confirming that the two clubs were closing in on a deal. Harden was to join a depleted Red Sox rotation, with the A’s receiving first base prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named later in return.
“That’s obviously what I had heard too, but I talked to Billy and he said I’m here and not going anywhere,” said Harden, who received premature congratulatory text messages and phone calls from friends.
Though a deal has seemingly fizzled, the A’s have until 1 p.m. PST, when the non-waiver Trade Deadline expires, to make a move.
It’s no secret that the Red Sox have tirelessly been working to add a starter to the mix, and Harden admitted he sees plenty positives in Boston via a contending squad and a familiar face in former A’s pitching coach Curt Young — now in the same position for the Red Sox — but said, “I’m real happy to be here. I love being a part of this organization and pitching here.”
Harden, 29, is no stranger to midseason deals in Oakland. On July 8, 2008, he was traded by the A’s alongside hurler Chad Gaudin to the Cubs for pitcher Sean Gallagher, catcher Josh Donaldson, infielder Eric Patterson and outfielder Matt Murton.
Fast forward to the present, following stints in Chicago and Texas, and Harden is 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA in five starts in his second tour of duty with the A’s, who signed him to a one-year deal worth $1.25 million this offseason. He suffered a strain to his lat muscle on report day in Spring Training and didn’t make his season debut until July 1.
This isn’t the first time a deal between the Red Sox and A’s has fallen apart. In November, 2002, Beane was set to be named general manager of the Red Sox. However, Beane had a change of heart, and that was when Theo Epstein became Boston’s GM.
The A’s, then, could potentially stay quiet through the Trade Deadline. Outfielders Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus — all free agents at season’s end — were thought to be prime candidates to be dealt, but Beane has said he won’t make a move just to trim payroll. However, more than 12 hours remain before the deadline, and Beane could be seeing offers for such players increase as the market thins. Willingham and Crisp have both been linked to the Braves.
Several A’s relievers, including Grant Balfour and Brad Ziegler, have also been rumored with a multitude of teams looking for bullpen help.
– Jane Lee
Surprisingly quiet for much of the week, the A’s finally entered play in a bustling trade scene Saturday, closing in on a deal that will send right-hander Rich Harden to the Red Sox, a Major League source confirmed.
The deal is not yet considered done, but the A’s are expected to receive first base prospect Lars Anderson and a player to be named later in return.
Harden’s second tour of duty in Oakland marked a short reunion, as the 29-year-old righty made just five starts for the club — going 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA — after signing a one-year deal worth $1.25 million only to suffer a strain to his lat muscle in mid-February that kept him away from a big league mound until July 1.
Harden offers pitching depth to a Red Sox team that was tirelessly working on adding a starter to the mix by Sunday’s 1 p.m. PST non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Anderson, an Oakland native, was a 2006 18th-round Draft pick by the Red Sox out of Jesuit High School in Sacramento. He’s batting .261 with 10 home runs and 57 RBIs, along with 59 walks and 92 strikeouts, for Triple-A Pawtucket.
The 23-year-old made his Major League debut in 2010 and at one time was considered Boston’s first baseman of the future. But those plans changed upon the offseason arrival of Adrian Gonzalez, who was signed to a seven-year extension.
Anderson could offer the A’s immediate help at the big league level in an already youthful infield, as the club is without a true first baseman following Daric Barton’s demotion to Triple-A Sacramento in June. Barton, who hit just .212 with no home runs and a .592 OPS in 67 games for the A’s, was recently diagnosed with a torn labrum in his right shoulder and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Harden was next scheduled to start for the A’s in Seattle on Tuesday, but Oakland has several replacement options, including right-handers Tyson Ross and Graham Godfrey and lefty Josh Outman.
– Jane Lee