After failing to sign with the Yankees last year, the veteran NPB player is an unrestricted free agent this winter.
Not having any luck trading outfielder Justin Upton for young infield help up the middle, the Arizona Diamondbacks have significantly broadened their search for a new shortstop. The D'Backs have begun negotiations with international free-agent Hiroyuki Nakajima, an 11-year veteran of Japan's NPB league, per Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.
The 30-year-old Nakajima should sound familiar to Yankees fans. New York won the bidding rights to the veteran shortstop last fall (with a $2 million bid) after he was posted by his club, the Seibu Lions, but the Yankees were unable to reach to an agreement with him. Nakajima returned to the Lions on a $3.64 million contract for the 2012 season, hitting an impressive .311/.382/.451 with 13 home runs in 136 games. Those numbers are even more impressive when you note that the NPB has been an extreme pitchers' league since introducing a new ball before the 2011 season.
Arizona does have an in-house option at shortstop for next season -- the club acquired shortstop Cliff Pennington from the Oakland A's in return for outfielder Chris Young last month -- but their talks with Nakajima and attempts to exchange Upton for the Rangers' young shortstop duo indicate the club is not content with their current situation at short.
Nakajima is a career .302/.367/.475 hitter with 162 home runs and 141 stolen bases in 11 seasons.