|"Rak-what? Are they in the NL?"|
There's probably more than a few people who looked at the above headline and went, "huh?". While Masahiro Tanaka may not be coming to the US, Kevin Youkilis is going to Japan to play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, confirmed the information with mlbtraderumors.com. Youkilis signed a one-year, $12MM with the Yankees last season, but played in just 28 games due to a bad back that led to season ending surgery.
The corner infielder has not played more than 122 games in a season since 2009 when he was in his sixth season in Boston. Injuries have taken their toll the the last three seasons as evidenced by Youkilis' plummeting slugging percentage and batting average.
Youkilis was unduly criticized by new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine in 2012 and was sent to the Chicago White Sox at the trade deadline in July for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart.
The 34-year old was on fire to start the 2013 season, posting a .931 OPS through the Yankees' first 13 games, but sat out a week after his back contributed to a 1-12 skid. He returned too quickly on April 27 and landed on the disabled list after one game.
Youkilis missed 30 games and then was 6-41 (.146) before his season came to a premature end. This season he'll take the place of another former, short-term Yankee (22 games in 2012), Casey McGehee, who left Japan to sign a contract with the Miami Marlins.