Athletics

A's set to introduce shortstop Nakajima

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A's set to introduce shortstop Nakajima

OAKLAND -- Just hours after free agent shortstop Stephen Drew was plucked off the market by the Boston Red Sox, the A's locked down his replacement. On Tuesday, Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima will be introduced by the A's in a press conference at 2 p.m. in Oakland. It will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet California.

Nakajima, 30, has reportedly signed a two-year deal worth $6.5 million with a club option for a third season. The financial terms were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. That's $3 million less than Drew will be getting for one season from the Red Sox. 

Oakland had expressed interest in the Seibu Lions' starting shortstop earlier in the offseason and they met with his representatives at the Winter Meetings.

Listed at 5'11" and 198 pounds, Nakajima hit .311 with 13 home runs, 74 RBI, 52 walks, and a .382 on-base percentage in 136 games last season in the Japanese Pacific League. Those numbers are on par with his career stats, as he is a career .302 hitter with a .367 on-base percentage. In 2011, the Yankees won the negotiating rights for Nakajima but couldn't come to terms on a deal and he remained in Japan.

At the Winter Meetings in Nashville, A's manager Bob Melvin said of Nakajima, "He's a hitter, he looks like a hitter." One MLB talent evaluator told me he has a dependable glove, a chance to hit for average, and should be a solid player. Watching several videos of Nakajima online, it looks like he is a spray hitter with good opposite field power.

So far, infielders from the Pacific League haven't exactly dominated in Major League Baseball. Nakajima took over at shortstop for the Seibu Lions after Kaz Matsui signed with the Mets. Matsui hit .305 with 33 homers and 84 RBI in his final season in Japan. He has a .267 average with 32 home runs, 211 RBI and a .321 on-base percentage in seven Major League seasons.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka is another example of a Pacific League infielder that didn't work out.  He was a batting champion and star in Japan, but signed a three-year, $9.25 million contract with Minnesota and was released last September after hitting .215 with 14 errors in 71 games.

Like language, sometimes statistics get lost in translation. It is difficult to project how Nakajima's numbers will look in Oakland. The A's clearly like what they see in Nakajima, though. He is a relatively low risk, potentially high upside player. If all goes according to plan, Nakajima will take over at shortstop until top prospect Addison Russell is MLB-ready. Russell was the A's first round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

Now that Oakland has a guy to pencil in at starting shortstop, the reigning American League West Champions' roster appears to be close to complete. FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi were the first to report the A's and Nakajima were nearing a deal.

Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

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Maxwell speaks about anthem protest, but stays mum on legal issues

When A's catcher Bruce Maxwell knelt during the anthem last season, he was the first MLB player to do so. He knelt before each of each of Oakland's final nine games, in order to protest racial inequality and in response to President Trump's incendiary comments about NFL players kneeling, but ended the season as the only MLB player to kneel during the anthem. 

This season, he won't kneel at all, he told reporters in a statement on the first day of spring training. 

“Obviously, I didn’t take that lightly,” Maxwell told the San Francisco Chronicle prior to the release of his statement.  “That was to bring awareness to a problem and the face we do see it, we do experience and we have empathy for what’s going on. This year I don’t plan on kneeling. … And we’ll move on forward.”

While Maxwell did address his protest during the anthem, he largely did not address his offseason legal issues.

“It’s ongoing, I can’t really discuss details,” he said. “It’s something me and my lawyers are handling.”

On Oct. 28, Maxwell was arrested in Scottsdale after allegedly pointing a gun at a food-delivery person. He pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct in November, and is set for a settlement conference on April 13 after failing to reach a plea agreement on Monday, according to the Chronicle. 

If an agreement cannot be reached, Maxwell's trial is set to begin on Aug. 9. 

Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson traded to... the Yankees

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Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson traded to... the Yankees

The New York Yankees Wednesday announced that they have acquired infielder Russell Wilson from the Texas Rangers in exchange for future considerations.

Wilson, 29, led the Seattle Seahawks to the 2014 Super Bowl championship, defeating the Denver Broncos, 43-8. At age 25, Wilson became the third-youngest quarterback to lead a team to a Super Bowl victory.

He has played the past six seasons (2012-17) with Seattle. A four-time Pro-Bowler, Wilson has completed 1,815-of-2,834 pass attempts (64.0 percent) for 22,176 yards and 161 touchdowns. He has compiled a career starting record of 65-30-1. In 2017, Wilson led the NFL with 34 touchdown passes.

"We've admired Russell's career from afar for quite some time," Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman said. "This is a unique opportunity for us to learn from an extraordinary athlete who has reached the pinnacle of his profession. 

"After talking to a number of our players, there is a genuine excitement in having Russell join us for a short time in camp. We are all looking forward to gaining insight into how he leads teammates toward a common goal, prepares on a daily basis for the rigors of his sport, and navigates the successes and failures of a season."

The Richmond, Va., native was originally selected by the Colorado Rockies in the fourth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, and was acquired by Texas in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft. In 2014 and '15, Wilson participated in team workouts at Rangers spring training camp.

In 93 career minor league games between Rookie-level Tri-City (2010) and Single-A Asheville (2011) in Colorado's system, Wilson hit .229/.354/.356 (72-for-315) with 58R, 9 doubles, 8 triples, 5HR, 26RBI and 19SB. In his last 15 games with Asheville in 2011, Wilson hit .302 (16-for-53) with 13R, 5 extra-base hits, 9RBI and 5SB.

A two-sport athlete in college, Wilson graduated from North Carolina State University in 2010. Using his last year of amateur eligibility, Wilson enrolled at the University of Wisconsin and quarterbacked the Badgers to a co-Big Ten Championship and a Rose Bowl appearance following the 2011 season. 

Wilson is expected to be in Major League camp in March. While he is in Tampa, Wilson will participate in pregame workouts with the club and watch games from the Yankees' dugout.

He will be assigned to the Double-A Trenton roster.

Yankees media services