Nakajima qualifies for unrestricted free agency

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TOKYO, May 30 (19:41) Kyodo

Seibu Lions shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima on Wednesday became
eligible to file for unrestricted free agency at the end of the
season, having completed the necessary nine years of service.

Nakajima was posted by the Lions last autumn but failed to
strike a deal with the New York Yankees, who won his exclusive
negotiating rights through the posting system.

Nakajima had been looking to play for a team that would give him
a chance to start, but New York ostensibly wanted him as a utility
infielder. In lieu of a deal, he returned to the Lions for this

"I have plenty of time, so I want to think it over," Nakajima
had said on Tuesday about his new status.

While posted players are restricted to negotiating only with the
highest-bidding major league club, unrestricted free agents can
negotiate with any domestic or overseas team they choose.

Nakajima could have exercised his right last year to move to
another team within Japan, but his ambition is to experience major
league ball and the Lions obliged him by putting him up for auction.
The 29-year-old right-handed hitter is batting .276 with two home
runs and has started all 43 of Seibu's games at shortstop.

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