Two people with knowledge of the negotiations said the A’s agreed to sign shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima of Japan’s Seibu Lions.
The people spoke on condition of anonymity Monday because there had yet to be a formal announcement. The AL West champion A’s called a news conference for today afternoon described as a “major announcement.”
Nakajima agreed to a $6.5 million, two-year contract. The deal also includes a $5.5 million option for a third season, one of the people said.
Nakajima, a seven-time Pacific League All-Star, has a .302 batting average with 149 home runs, 664 RBIs and 134 stolen bases over 11 seasons with Seibu. The 30-year-old right-handed hitter played on the 2009 Japanese team that won the World Baseball Classic, getting two doubles and two RBI in a 9-4 semifinal victory over Team USA.
The Yankees had won Nakajima’s rights last year, but he decided to return to Japan for another year.
He would fill a big void for Oakland, which traded away shortstop and second baseman Cliff Pennington to Arizona in an Oct. 21 trade that brought outfielder Chris Young to the A’s.
The club also lost out on shortstop Stephen Drew, who was acquired in an August trade with Arizona. Drew signed a one-year, $9.5 million contract with the Boston Red Sox on Monday.
Drew, 29, became available when the A’s rejected a $10 million mutual option on his contract in October. Instead, Drew received a $1.35 million buyout on his A’s contract. In 39 regular-season games with Oakland in 2012, Drew hit .250 with five homers and 16 RBI. Between the A’s and Diamondbacks, he hit .223 in 327 plate appearances.
General manager Billy Beane’s big offseason priority has been to find a shortstop. There were rumbling the A’s were interested in trying to acquire Yunel Escobar from the Miami Marlins, but nothing came to fruition and he was eventually shipped to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Outside of the trade for Young, it’s been a rather quiet offseason for the A’s. Oakland did bring back Bartolo Colon, who was suspended 50 games for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug, on a one-year deal. But valuable right-hander Brandon McCarthy (Arizona Diamondbacks) and outfielder Jonny Gomes (Red Sox) have moved on.