This is a complicated process in which interested MLB teams submit bids to the Japanese team that holds the player's rights, with the high bidder getting a window in which to reach a contract agreement with the player. It's a combination of a purchase and free agency. Further muddying the waters here: It's been reported that Nishioka wants to wind up on the West Coast.
The immediate takeaways from this:
- This process is a long way from delivering Nishioka to Minnesota;
- The Twins' decades-long inability to develop their own middle infielders continues to force them to look elsewhere for such players.
Chuck Knoblauch was the last quality middle infielder the Twins signed as an amateur and developed intheir system, and that was almost 20 year ago. Luis Rivas wasn't a quality middle infielder, but he plugged the second base hole for a few years.
Other than that, the void. The Twins have gotten their regulars by trade (Jason Bartlett, Luis Castillo, Nick Punto, J.J. Hardy) or free agency (Orlando Hudson), but their otherwise productive player development operation doesn't do so well in the middle infield.