FULL COUNT: Bold predictions for Nakajima’s future

Back in December 2012, the Oakland Athletics signed Japanese infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima to a two-year, $6.5 million deal amid high hopes that the eight-time NPB All-Star would become the team’s everyday shortstop.

Yet injuries and disappointing spring play has kept him in the minors while the likes of Jed Lowrie, Alberto Callaspo, Eric Sogard, Nick Punto and Any Parrino have stepped up to man the middle infield, rendering Nakajima irrelevant.

He spent 2013 at Triple-A Sacramento and was removed from the 40-man roster that offseason.

Earlier this year, Nakajima hit .128 in 12 games with the River Cats before being sent down to the Oakland’s Double-A affiliate the Midland RockHounds.

The 32-year-old is currently batting .280 and playing second base while occasionally being used as a designated hitter, but don’t expect a September call-up.

Here are three bold predictions for Nakajima’s future:

1. General manager Billy Beane will sign him to a minor-league deal and invite him to Spring Training, giving him one last shot to make the roster.

With Beane it’s never out of the question.

2. He will re-sign with the Seibu Lions, where he spent his entire career and help them win the Japan Series. Nakajima won rings with the Lions in 2004 and 2008.

3. In search of a second baseman, the San Francisco Giants will sign him once he becomes a free agent in the offseason. The Giants were among the teams eyeing him a few years ago.

Drew Morita, a Yonsei from Kaua‘i, writes from San Francisco. Follow him @drewmorita or e-mail him at drew_morita@yahoo.com.

 

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