Who is Tsuyoshi Nishioka?
Nishioka is a 26-year old middle infielder who has played his professional career with the Chiba Lotte Marines. According to his Wikipedia page (yes, I'm referencing Wikipedia, the source of all accurate truthiness), he's primarily known for a few different things.
- His ability to get on base. As a career .293/.364/.426 hitter, he has no problems taking a walk, which means his offensive ability isn't completely tied up in his ability to hit safely. Which is good.
- His ability to steal bases. He's never topped the 41 bags he stole in 2005 as a 20-year old, but he's still averaged 23 swipes over the last four seasons. It appears he's not exceptionallyl fast, but he uses his speed well and can read pitchers.
- His injuries. He's never missed significant time, playing in at least 115 games every season over the past six years. His 144 games played this season were a career-high.
- His defense. Attributed with great range, as well as "quick reflexes, soft hands and an exceptional throwing arm", you can't get much better of a scouting report than that.
I recommend you read it for yourself, but the entry also says he's a switch hitter and a great at push-bunting. He sounds like a pretty good number two hitter to me. Not only that, but we know Gardy likes to hit one of his middle infielders second, and Nichioka sounds like he would be a better option than either J.J. Hardy or Alexi Casilla.
Of course, it's not all duckies and bunnies. Yahoo! Sports' Duk doses us up with a spoonful of reality here. Last week, TwinsGeek mused that his daughter would be more interested in touching his hair, for what it's worth. The most important dose of reality though, comes from Joe C, who says that Minnesota's chances are slim. But, bid they will.
Once a team wins the bid, that's just the start of the negotiations as that bid has nothing to do with the contract the winning bidder will have to pay him. Which will be a fair penny. How much a team is willing to bid, while understanding how much they'll have to dish out if they win, is up for debate. Let's look at a few past winning bids, just to see what kind of company the Twins would have to keep.
2002, Ichiro Suzuki: $13+ million
2002, Kazuhisa Ishii: $11+ million
2006, Daisuke Matsuzaka: $51+ million
2006, Kei Igawa: $26+ million
2010, Hisashi Iwakuma: Estimated $16+ million
Those are some of the bigger ones in recent seasons. We're still waiting to hear Oakland's exact bid for Iwakuma, but suffice it to say that's a lot of dough simply to have exclusive negotiation rights and I imagine that five years from now I'll probably be glad the Twins didn't bid that much for him. And while other players, like Akinori Iwamura and his $4.5 million winning bid, can have those rights won for a bit less, a player like Nishioka is going to garner a lot of interest. There will be aggressive bids.
Whatever happens we know the Twins will make their bid, and we'll see the results when the dust settles next week.