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Free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew leaves the A's after agreeing to a one-year, $9.5 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.

Just hours after the Boston Red Sox signed free agent Stephen Drew away from Oakland, the A's filled their gaping infield hole Monday by agreeing to terms with Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, according to two baseball sources.

Nakajima, 30, reportedly agreed to a two-year contract for $6.5 million with a club option for a third season at $5.5 million. The A's had met with Nakajima's representatives in early December, even though they had entertained hopes of retaining Drew, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Red Sox for a reported $9.5 million plus incentives.

The A's called a news conference for Tuesday afternoon at the Coliseum to announce the signing of Nakajima, although the club would only confirm that general manager Billy Beane would be in attendance along with a "special guest."

Nakajima could turn out to be an upgrade over Drew or the departed Cliff Pennington even though he has never played in the U.S. major leagues. During the past six seasons with the Saitama Seibu Lions in the Japanese Pacific League, the infielder has posted a .310 batting average with a .381 on-base percentage.

In 2012, the right-handed-hitting Nakajima had a .311 batting average and .382 OBP in 136 games with 13 homers and 74 RBIs. He has hit 20 or more homers in four different seasons for Seibu, and also drove in 100 runs in 2011. He stole only seven bases in 13 attempts last season, ending a stretch of four straight years in which he stole at least 15 bases.


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Nakajima has been a seven-time Nippon Professional Baseball all-star after making his debut in the Japanese league as a 19-year-old in 2001. He has a career average of .302 with 162 home runs, 738 RBIs and 141 stolen bases. Defensively, he has improved over the course of his career, and he won Japanese league Gold Gloves at shortstop in 2008 and 2011.

Nakajima also played a major role as the starting shortstop on Japan's World Baseball Classic team that won the gold medal in 2009. Batting second behind Ichiro Suzuki, he hit .364 with a .516 on-base percentage.

The A's appeared to be in a bind at shortstop when Drew came to terms with Boston, considering they had traded Pennington to Arizona in October. The only players in the organization with major league shortstop experience were utility infielders Adam Rosales and Eric Sogard and recently acquired Andy Parrino.

Nakajima appeared to be headed to the New York Yankees last offseason after they won the rights to negotiate with a $2 million bid, but the player and team couldn't come to terms, and he decided to play in Japan for another season.

The announcement of Drew going to the Red Sox came early Monday morning. Just last week there was speculation that Drew probably would return to the A's.

Shortly after the 2012 season, Drew declined a $10 million mutual option that the A's more than likely would not have exercised anyway. Drew was paid a $1.35 million buyout by Oakland.

Drew hit .250 for Oakland and played well defensively after arriving in a deal with Arizona in August. But his overall 2012 batting line was just .223/.309/.348 (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) in 327 plate appearances.

The signing of Nakajima will allow the A's development time for the player they believe is their shortstop of the future, 19-year-old Addison Russell, their top 2012 draft pick.