While we await an official decision from the Rakuten Golden Eagles on the posting status of prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, the Nippon Professional Baseball team made headlines elsewhere by agreeing on a one-year deal with former major leaguer Kevin Youkilis. Nikkan Sports initially reported the deal on Friday. Alex Speier of WEEI confirmed and adds it will be worth $4 million with another $1 million possible through incentives.
Youkilis, 34, spent the entire 2013 season with the New York Yankees, but you'd be hard-pressed to remember it as he was limited to 28 games due to back problems. With that in mind, it's likely his incentives are based around the number of games he's able to play with Rakuten, though none of those details have been confirmed.
When healthy, Youkilis only managed a .219 average with two home runs last season. He hasn't hit above .236 in a full season since 2010 when he hit .307 with 51 extra-base hits. Despite the obvious downturn in his production, the Yankees expressed interest in retaining Youkilis earlier this month. However, the once popular Red Sox star elected to move on and seek a deal closer to home.
Cashman called Youkilis's agent to gauge interest in returning to Yankees. Youkilis appreciated call, but wants to play near home in Cali.
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 10, 2013
Well, it would appear he overestimated his value on the market, but at least he'll be closer to California than New York. On the flip side of that, playing in Japan probably gives him his best opportunity to prove he's healthy and reestablish his value, so the landing spot may not be the worst in the long run.
And if that doesn't go as planned, well, at least he'll have a cool new nickname that's also marketable.
Another thing to consider: When written in Japanese kana, Youkilis' name would be transliterated as Yūkirisu. In Japanese, yuki means "snow" while risu means "squirrel."
So move over, "Greek God of Walks." I hereby declare "Snow Squirrel" to be Youkilis' nickname for as long as he's with the Golden Eagles.
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