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A’s turn to Japan for shortstop

The A’s have a problem, and they’ve had some trouble finding a solution.

They don’t have a viable in-house option for their Opening Day shortstop. And there aren’t many attractive choices on the market.

The problem was magnified when mid-season acquisition Stephen Drew agreed to a deal with Boston on Monday. Boston is going to pay Drew $9.5 million for the 2013 season, much more than the A’s were willing to pay him.

Once Drew was off the board, the A’s turned their attention quickly to Hiroyuki Nakajima, a 30-year-old Japanese shortstop on the Seibu Lions of the Japan Pacific League.

In 2012, Najajima hit .311 with a .382 on-base percentage. The Japan Pacific League season is 144 games long and Nakajima has played at least 124 games in all six seasons. He’s a 5-foot-11 right-handed hitter.

Monday morning,’s Casey Pratt wrote that Nakajima could be the answer for the A’s.

Monday afternoon, news broke that the A’s had reached an agreement with Nakajima.

ESPN’s Buster Olney posted some interesting evaluations of Nakajima on Twitter after the news was announced.

Here’s how the A’s put themselves in the desperate position of looking far and wide for a shortstop.

On October 20, Cliff Pennington was shipped to Arizona for outfielder Chris Young.

On November 26, the A’s traded Brandon Hicks to the New York Mets for a pile of cash.

On December 4, the controversial Yunel Escobar was traded from Miami to Tampa Bay. Escobar was linked to the A’s before they acquired Drew and there were rumors that they pursued him before he was dealt to Tampa Bay.

Monday, December 17, Stephen Drew signs with the Boston Red Sox on a one-year deal for $9.5 million.

The A’s think they’ve found their guy. But in case they bring Nakajima over here and aren’t satisfied, there might be a few trade options.

The Chronicle’s Susan Slusser believes the A’s will have to find their 2013 shortstop via a trade.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman added some potential targets.

Houston’s Jed Lowrie is a local kid from Stanford. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox and traded to Houston in 2011. He hit .244 with 16 home runs and 18 doubles in 97 last season for the Astros.

Lowrie is under team control for two more seasons. It’s not clear whether the Astros would trade him, but they aren’t going to contend in 2013, so if the Astros can get a few young players for him, they should jump at the offer.

Dee Gordon is a young, small Dodger in a big pond. He was a highly-touted prospect coming up through the Dodgers system.

Gordon hit .304 in a 56 game cup of coffee in 2011, but struggled in 2012 when he won the starting shortstop job, hitting just .228 in just 87 games. He’s got lots of speed, but he reminds me a lot of Jemile Weeks and I don’t think the A’s need another soft-hitting middle infielder.

Jhonny Peralta — yes, Jhonny — is an intriguing name. He’s 30 years old and is a free agent after the 2013 season. His name has been floated in trade rumors, but Detroit insists they aren’t trading him. He’d be the best option for the A’s if they could pry him away, but a deal is unlikely considering the Tigers are frontrunners in the AL and don’t have anyone waiting to take over at shortstop.

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