Hiroyuki Nakajima--probably the St. Louis Cardinals' best second base option--signed a two-year, $6.5 million contract with the Oakland Athletics on Monday, completely breaking my heart and also giving the A's a remarkably low-risk chance at a cost-controlled, league-average shortstop with a nice bat. Why?
Because they knew that every signing involves risk, and they, apparently, valued the risk of translating Nakajima's numbers much less than other teams did. Which is exactly right. Nakajima might not really be the .311/.382/.451 hitter he was in Japan last year, even though Japan's hitting numbers are way down in the last two years, but $3 million a year doesn't get you anywhere near an .800-OPS guy who might be able to play shortstop in America anyway.
You know what it gets you? Ty Wigginton, basically. The Athletics are betting that, whatever hit Nakajima's numbers take moving from Japan to America, he'll be at least as valuable as not his America equivalent but a .700-OPS guy who probably isn't able to play third base. This is not a huge gamble, but the A's, for whatever reason, were the only team willing to take it.