The Yankees announced Thursday that they have not been able to come to an agreement with Seibu Lions infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima after winning his exclusive negotiating rights last month through the posting process.
The deadline to come to terms is 5 p.m. Eastern time Friday; the early announcement indicates both sides' lack of interest in completing a deal.
"We unfortunately could not come to an agreement with Hiroyuki," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement. "We wish him the best of luck during the upcoming 2012 season."
As per Major League Baseball's agreement with the Japan professional leagues, Nakajima will return to the Lions for the 2012 campaign and the Yankees will not have to pay the $2-million posting fee.
The Yankees, who were somewhat surprised to win the bid for Nakajima, don't have a pressing need in the infield. They think highly of young Eduardo Nuñez and regard him as a very important piece for the coming year. Therefore, they never were seriously motivated to sign Nakajima, who wanted a three-year contract. The Yankees would have been interested in a one-year deal.
With Nakajima off the board, however, the Yankees figure to try harder to re-sign Eric Chavez, the lefthanded-hitting third baseman who helped the team last year and now is a free agent.