guaranteed $3.25 million. But the former Japanese all-star didn't make the decision in a vacuum. Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Friday there had been conversations with Nishioka's management team before the sides agreed to part with one year left on Nishioka's three-year, $9.25 million deal. Released from the 40-man roster on Aug. 20, Nishioka was staring down another season at Class AAA Rochester in 2013. "He didn't want to be in Rochester, and not because it's not a nice affiliate; he didn't have that in mind from the get-go, and neither did we," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "All right; how are we going to get this things sound where both of us are happy? So I'm sure he'll do well in Japan, and it certainly frees up some payroll for us." The move means Nishioka can sign with any club anywhere, and releases the Twins from their obligation to pay his $3 million salary for 2013 and a $250,000 buyout on 2014. Winner of a 2010 batting title and the equivalent of Gold Gloves at second and short, Nishioka was supposed to fill a middle infield slot and bat second behind Denard Span as the Twins retooled for a run at a third straight American League Central title. Instead, he became an albatross, a reminder the past two seasons of everything that went wrong with a Twins organization badly in need of a tune-up. Then-GM Bill Smith paid Chiba Lotte of the Nippon Professional League $5.32 million for negotiating rights, then signed Nishioka to a three-year deal worth $9.25 million. "Obviously we had high hopes when we purchased his rights and brought him over," said Ryan, a special assistant to Smith at the time. "Unfortunately it didn't work out for either party's best interest, so I think we made a good thing out of a tough situation."
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka