Rakuten Golden Eagles To Sign Kevin Youkilis

9:09pm: In an email, Speier clarifies that Youkilis will receive a $2MM signing bonus, $2MM in salary and up to $1MM in incentives.

3:26pm: Youkilis will earn a $4MM base salary, and his contract also contains $1MM worth of "very earnable" incentives, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports, via Twitter, that Youkilis' plan is to play for just one more season.

1:13pm: The Rakuten Golden Eagles will sign Kevin Youkilis, according to a report from Nikkan Sports (passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman on Twitter). MLBTR has confirmed the report with Youkilis' agent Joe Bick of Pro Star Management, Inc.


Youkilis will sign a one-year deal with the Golden Eagles. Though previous reports indicated that he wanted to play close to his California home, Bick explained to MLBTR that his client's West Coast preference was in order to be near to his family. Youkilis' wife and children will be going with him to Japan, however, which was a key factor in his decision. Youkilis considered the opportunity to play in Japan a "life experience that was too good to pass up," said Bick.

Youkilis, who turns 35 in March, inked a one-year, $12MM contract with the Yankees last offseason but saw his 2013 campaign cut short by a pair of back injuries. He would appear in just 28 games for the Yankees, batting .219/.305/.343 with a pair of homers before undergoing season-ending back surgery in June. A three-time All-Star that finished third in the AL MVP voting back in 2008, Youkilis was one of the American League's best hitters from 2007-11 when he batted .294/.395/.517 over a five-year span.

Youkilis could appear at either corner position for the Golden Eagles, who now have a vacancy at third base following Casey McGehee's decision to return to Major League Baseball on a one-year deal with the Marlins. That situation was not necessarily linked to Rakuten's interest in Youkilis, however, as the two sides have been in discussions for roughly three weeks. Youkilis received interest from eight or nine Major League clubs, but ultimately elected to be with his family for a new experience in Japan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

122 Responses to Rakuten Golden Eagles To Sign Kevin Youkilis Leave a Reply

  1. KINGMOJO 2 years ago

    Would have been a good bench player for Oakland

    • Junior7188 2 years ago

      your really funny if you think that Kevin Youkilis is a bench player, he can hit better the half your team could.

      • Victoria Roberts 2 years ago

        The problem there is he can only stay healthy for about 50 games a year. At this point in his career, he’s a bench player.

        • Junior7188 2 years ago

          remember eric chavez was told he would be a bench player for the rest of his carrier from everyone, and look now he can play way more then 100 Games and stay heathly.

        • Junior7188 2 years ago

          remember eric chavez was told he would be a bench player for the rest of his carrier from everyone, and look now he can play way more then 100 Games and stay heathly.

          • Baseball Lifer 2 years ago

            Chavez has avearged 96 games the past 2 years… Most of which was spent as a key pinch hitter off the bench. He is far (much like Youkilis) removed from a everyday regualr player.

        • beisbolista 2 years ago

          From 2010-2012 Youkilis averaged about 115 games per season. That’s not bench player caliber regardless of last season’s health issues. In fact, I bet Youkilis got a pretty good contract with Rakuten. I don’t see this as the Golden Eagles signing an MLB reject. I see this as Rakuten offering Youkilis, still a well regarded big league player, the best deal of any team in the mix, and signing him as a statement directly to Tanaka. The Eagles are trying to keep Tanaka in Japan, and aside from talking to Tanaka about increasing next year’s contract to a record number, signing Youkilis is a great first step in persuading Tanaka to stay in Japan.

          • Victoria Roberts 2 years ago

            Conveniently eliminating 2013 from the equation does not mean it did not exist. If Youkilis could have found a job in the US don’t you think he would have taken it? He has had declining numbers, and games played for the past three years. He’s not the same player he was and teams can see that. That’s he has to go to Japan to rebuild value.

          • beisbolista 2 years ago

            1) A single year does not establish a trend. 2013 is an outlier from the recent dataset of 2010-2013.

            2) Youkilis’ games played increased from 2010-2012: 102, 120, 122. His games played have not “decreased over the last three years.”

            3) There is no evidence that he was not offered a job in the U.S. In fact, common sense and a look at Youkilis’ career numbers both directly support an inference that there were probably several teams willing to give him a chance. Rakuten most likely offered more money, and a guaranteed starting position.

          • Victoria Roberts 2 years ago

            They have decreased from the 147, 145, 145 and 136 he played in the previous 4 seasons. 2013 is not an outlier, the wheels finally fell off the bus. His performance was trailing off and he finally got the major injury that everyone was waiting for. And career numbers don’t mean squat. What have you done for me lately. Youkilis is never going to hit like it’s 2005 or 2006 again. He is declining because of his aggressive style of play. And in your recent data set would you say he has been a good hitter? How about a good defender? Because at best he looks average over the past three years. His best years are behind him.

          • beisbolista 2 years ago

            You’re using data from between 5-8 years ago to support a statement you made about the last three years???

            I’ll accept your statement that Youkilis is average without getting into a debate on the merits. The average Major Leaguer has no problem finding a job in the U.S. Nobody is arguing that Youkilis is the player he was in 2008.

          • Victoria Roberts 2 years ago

            No, I am using that data to support a decline in games played per season. If you can omit an entire season, the most important one at that, being the most recent one, surely I can use that data to support that he plays fewer games now than he has in the past. At best he was average. I was throwing you a bone,. He is a below average defender, particularly at third base. Unfortunately people who play average defense at first base are a dime a dozen as it is the easiest position to play defensively. I think if you really look at his numbers over the past few seasons, slash lines of .219.305.343, .235 .336 .409, and .258 .373 .459, even you have to admit that isn’t average for a corner infielder. That is below average. And declining. And there’s the part where if he could have found a job in the US, he’s be working in the US. Unless you think he’s being serious about wanting to have that experience with his family?

          • beisbolista 2 years ago

            It seems my points are supported by the contract. The average Major Leaguer last season made $3.19MM. Youkilis’ contract will come out between $4-5MM, and in a league known for much lower salaries than MLB.

          • Kevin Siver 2 years ago

            I’ll be honest, I believe that his comments were sincere. Experiencing different places in the world is a very good pursuit and it can really improve your outlook on a great many things in life. Japan is a beautiful country and baseball is second to nothing there, paradise for a player with an “aggressive style of play” or as I prefer to call it, heart and guts.

          • Mil8Ball 2 years ago

            147,145,145,136 is not a trend at all. 3 years it never changed and the last was only 10 less. This can not be considered a negative trend.

          • NimbusStev 2 years ago

            I dunno, the article says he received interest from 8 or 9 Major League clubs, so I bet he could have gotten a contract from an MLB team if he wanted to. Granted, it wouldn’t have been the type of money he’s used to. Overall though, I think it’s a good decision for him and his family.

          • Red_Line_9 2 years ago

            I’d agree with you, but add that I believe Youkilis isn’t so much trying to rebuild value as give his family one year of Japanese experience. He can play ball and be closer to them.

          • $5427573 2 years ago

            I see it as their way of showing Tanaka they’re going all in to win in 2014. Mcgehee did very well for them last year and he has to be considered an upgrade.

      • Baseball Lifer 2 years ago

        Not with that bad back…. Let’s not forget he has hit .219, .234, and .258 during the last three seasons.

        • Junior7188 2 years ago

          so what he had surgery, he has a chance to come back, i bet that mlb teams after his first year are going to want him.

          • Baseball Lifer 2 years ago

            He has had multiple surgreries on his back, neck, shoulder, foot and elbow in his career…. He has missed 302 of his team’s games over the course of the last 5 years in part to his body failing him. He hasnt been the good/great player he was since 2008 (5 years ago). BTW – Just because you have a surgrey doesnt mean you will come back at 100%. As good as doctors are, they are not miracle men.

      • Mike Blowers 2 years ago

        yea Josh Donaldson and the 2 time defending AL West champs are slouches! Youk would have made them a real contender!

      • teakayfortoowon 2 years ago

        better than half of the 40-man roster maybe.

      • AlwaysTFO 2 years ago

        I think you mean, he would be healthy enough to play half the games the rest of the team could

  2. AmericanMovieFan 2 years ago

    I believe him. This doesn’t reek of spinning. He’s made plenty of money, had some amazing seasons, I think this is a great move for him. He’ll mash like 40 dingers there. I wonder what they’re paying him though. Can’t be much. Maybe $1-2MM.

    • letsgogiants 2 years ago

      I’m sure they’re pay him much more than that. Players that did far less than Youk in the major leagues have gotten paid that, if not more. One of the main reasons players will go to Japan is so they can get paid more than they would in the U.S. I’m sure Youk will get a pretty hefty paycheck there.

      • Marky Mark 2 years ago

        Tanakas offer of 7 mil was a record breaking offer.. hes not getting more than 3 mil

        • johnbrooks 2 years ago

          3 million was more than he was going to make in MLB. Casey McGhee made like 1.5 million this year for Rakuten, so he’s getting more than that i suppose

          • Marky Mark 2 years ago

            Still weird to me that a team wouldn’t have offered an incentive crazy deal with a base of 1 mil or something to see if they can strike lighting in a bottle.. I’ve always liked Youk as a player

          • johnbrooks 2 years ago

            Some MLB team would offered him a deal in like January or early
            February. My guess is Youk wanted the guaranteed salary and if he has a
            strong season in Japan, my guess is some MLB team will come calling in
            2014 with a starting job. It worked out for McGhee.

          • Red_Line_9 2 years ago

            Youkilis is trending into the murky ground of the overpaid former MLB star. It’s a gamble at corner positions where teams don’t want to take a chance. Even if the contract has a games played stipulation….what are they going to get? Teams see his medical charts. Youk knows his health. It looks like he took a chance to take the family to Japan for a year and get paid well one last time. No spin there….and I don’t blame him. Doesn’t make sense to fly all over the US as a bench player.

        • AmericanMovieFan 2 years ago

          Hence why I said 1 TO 2 million. I bet it’s $1MM base with $1MM or so in roster bonuses.

          • Marky Mark 2 years ago

            Oh I agreed with you, Was answering the other guy haah

  3. Kevin Wisla 2 years ago

    Who had this one going down??? Super random

    • letsgogiants 2 years ago

      Whoever did should automatically win the free agent contest.

      • connfyoozed . 2 years ago

        And they should be paid any cash prize in yen.

  4. Good luck to Youk, I really wanted him to be awesome last year…but things happen. Hope he rocks Rakuten.

  5. Lilstackhustla 2 years ago

    Japan is pretty close to his California home.

  6. Brandon Mason 2 years ago

    I Never in a million years expected this would happen

  7. johnbrooks 2 years ago

    Yeah I would never forseen this. Hopefully he can replace Casey McGhee for Rakuten.

  8. gpf0r 2 years ago

    Now they can post both him and Tanaka and get more in posting fees for Tanaka. Rumor was that is what teams were trying to do to circumvent the process.

  9. Jmazz88 2 years ago

    His hope is to have a great year out in Japan and get a MLB deal next year. Hence the one year contract.

  10. John Kreese 2 years ago

    “life experience that was too good to pass up,”

    Plus the fact they’ll be cutting him a pretty fat check that no MLB team was offering up.

    • LordOfTheSwings 2 years ago

      I’m sure if he really wanted to stay he could have gotten a deal for 2 m + incentives from someone. The Eagles are probably only paying him 3 to 4 million.

      But I guess an extra million (or a little more) is actually a substanial amount of money; especially when you’re an older player whose career could be done any year.

  11. tim2nyy 2 years ago

    Ha, I saw “Rakuten Golden Eagles” and thought this would be a Tanaka development. Very unexpected move, but good luck to Youk.

  12. So Youkilis, who wanted to play on the West Coast, is now heading to the Far East? Bold move for a bold dude. Best of luck out there, Youk.

  13. DerekJeterDan 2 years ago

    Plot Twist – Bobby Valentine to Manage the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

  14. Carlos 2 years ago

    he could see Cali from Japan

  15. Junior7188 2 years ago

    Goodluck Kevin Youkilis, show mlb that you can still hit, hope to see you back in a mlb team next year.

  16. Ely Sussman 2 years ago

    I’m interpreting “life experience that was too good to pass up” as “no guaranteed contract offers from MLB teams”

    • Conquerbeard 2 years ago

      I’m sure money was a factor, but there aren’t too many people who get an opportunity to do what they love in a country like that. I would totally take a job to browse the internet while living in Japan, hah.

  17. danistheguy 2 years ago

    That makes Youuuuk and Luuuuuke (Scott) both playing overseas. Weird.

  18. EarlyMorningBoxscore 2 years ago

    Good luck Youk. Always enjoyed his time (when healthy) for Boston.

  19. Baseball Lifer 2 years ago

    The Greek God of Walks has fallen…

  20. GrilledCheese39 2 years ago

    You know the Yankees are bad when someone turns down an offer from them to go to japan.

    • johnbrooks 2 years ago

      Its highly unlikely the Yankees would’ve offered him more than Rakuten did after being injured last year.

    • Too Many Idiots 2 years ago

      Yankees never made him an offer. I guess haters have to invent stories.

      • GrilledCheese39 2 years ago

        They didn’t make a formal offer, but they contacted his agent to work out a deal, and they said no

      • GrilledCheese39 2 years ago

        They didn’t make a formal offer, but they contacted his agent to work out a deal, and they said no

  21. GrilledCheese39 2 years ago

    You know the Yankees are bad when someone turns down an offer from them to go to japan.

  22. Always loved Youk and his awkward batting stance and how every Yankee fan I knew hated him for no apparent reason (prior to last year and then again after he got injured).

    I find it hard to believe that no major league team would pay him even a 1 million dollar salary. He’s been injured, but he might have been able to turn his luck if he stayed away from 3B. He’s made over 50 million in his career and he has a ring, maybe he just wants a new adventure

    • connfyoozed . 2 years ago

      If I were to believe any MLB veteran when he said that he actually wanted to go Japan for the “life experience”, I think Youk would be at or near the top of my less. I think he actually does want the new experience instead of trying to prove himself to another MLB team in a non-guaranteed situation. Good for Youk.

  23. Karkat 2 years ago

    If you transliterate “Youkilis” into Japanese, you can get ゆうくリス (Yuu-ku-ri-su), which could be taken to mean “fear of squirrels.” Fun facts!

    • Kevin Siver 2 years ago

      You just won the internet. Youk should enjoy his time there very much, Japan is an amazing place.

  24. PhillyYank 2 years ago

    This is sad. Youkilis could be of value to a lot of MLB teams on an incentive-laden deal. His problem is health and keeping his BA high, but look at that spread between BA and OBP. He can still draw walks and make pitchers work. Hope he makes it back to The Show soon.

  25. PhillyYank 2 years ago

    This is sad. Youkilis could be of value to a lot of MLB teams on an incentive-laden deal. His problem is health and keeping his BA high, but look at that spread between BA and OBP. He can still draw walks and make pitchers work. Hope he makes it back to The Show soon.

  26. Sky14 2 years ago

    Good for Youkilis., always liked him. If I was a ballplayer near the end of my career I would enjoy going to play in the Japanese league. It would be a new experience and would probably be better than being a part time player on a major league club.

  27. Tko11 2 years ago

    Maybe the Sox or Yankees threw him some cash under the table to recruit Tanaka for when he’s posted 😮

  28. jmcbosox 2 years ago

    i cant resist, i stole this from tim brown of yahoo sports.

    “A little sad Youk isn’t going to China instead. Greek God of woks.”

  29. James O'Donnell 2 years ago

    Damn, I had him going to the Hiroshima Carp in my Free Agent pool.

  30. Yaow 2 years ago

    I never understood the angst some sports fans have against players going to Japan.

    Japan is one of the coolest places on the planet.

    Youk is getting paid a decent sum to play baseball in a neat country. Not many people get that chance.

    Good for him and I hope he does well in Japan. I’m envious of Americans who get to work over there.

    • start_wearing_purple 2 years ago

      Add to that look how many players have gone over and become stars.

    • Conquerbeard 2 years ago

      Heck, I’m jealous. He’s getting paid to see the world. Not too shabby, really.

  31. Tim McCollum 2 years ago

    so a washed up american gets more than Tanaka’s current salary? LOL If I were Tanaka I’d be banging the door down to get the heck out of there.

    • WhoKilledTheRallyMonkey 2 years ago

      He is and they just offer to make him the highest paid player in NPB history (7.something mil) still its nothing close to what Tanaka would make in the MLB.

      • gwell55 2 years ago

        maybe the yanks have a deal to post tanaka for 20 and post youk for another 20m and collect more that way… gotta think with the yanks way of thinking here.

  32. Visionsofsilver 2 years ago

    He gets 4mil to continue to play the game he loves in an awesome country that’s excited about baseball? Sounds like a win.

    • Conquerbeard 2 years ago

      Not just excited about baseball, but a beautiful and culturally amazing country, too. I’ll never understand why people would see this as a negative thing.

      • Defiancy 2 years ago

        I think if anyone sees it as a negative, it’s simply because now we won’t get to see Youk play much. If health had permitted of course.

  33. Sage 2 years ago

    I don’t understand the Japan hate going on here, or all the people assuming it’s purely about money. Have you ever watched an NPB game? It’s actually super cool. Not to mention, Japan is an awesome country, and they are very excited about the game of baseball. There are teams here in America that couldn’t GIVE AWAY enough free tickets to fill their stadiums the way stadiums in Japan fill for Baseball. So, take that enthusiasm for the sport, going to a cool country, a nice $4 million contract, and being (likely) the starting third baseman for the team that just won the Japan Series, and I think Youk made a fantatstic decision. In fact, I’m thoroughly jealous of him.

    • Mil8Ball 2 years ago

      The Japan series probably won’t be all that special for a guy coming from the MLB. Its like winning your division in the MLB.

      Personally I think the thought of playing easier talent is a big draw…gets to go back to his glory days in a sense.

  34. novymir 2 years ago

    Bobby Valentine was right

  35. PlayBoyBuddy Rose 2 years ago

    how do you say 90 day DL in Japanese?

  36. Junior Salazar 2 years ago

    We give you Youkilis. Now give the Yankees their Tanaka!

    • jmcbosox 2 years ago

      Rangers signed Tanaka Wednesday.

      • Leonard Washington 2 years ago

        I don’t know why he doesn’t pull a “Carmona” and change his identity. They have Masahiro Tanaka under contract…….but not Hiromasa Suzuki.

  37. pft2 2 years ago

    4 million is exactly what Tanaka made last year. Guess who is getting posted.

    • pft2 2 years ago

      Now its 2 million, did the Yen suddenly depreciate or something ?

  38. Sufferfortribe 2 years ago

    Wow! $12M for only 28 games? Sure beats the job I had with WalMart.

  39. TommyL 2 years ago

    What was the posting fee?

  40. AmericanMovieFan 2 years ago

    Called it!!!!

  41. Defiancy 2 years ago

    This is actually a great move for a guy who wants to spend time with his family because playing in the NPB, he’ll be home (In Japan) every night.

  42. pft2 2 years ago

    Isn’t the Rakuten stadium in Sendai, the area affected by the earthquake and Tsunami and about 100 km from the nuclear plant that had the radiation leak?. IIRCC the stadium was damaged from the earthquake and Tsunami and only reopened last year.

  43. bernbabybern 2 years ago

    Hey, MLB is not a development league for the NPB.

    • Leonard Washington 2 years ago

      Sox should have signed him then posted him. 20M to negotiate please!

  44. HHHDMS 2 years ago

    Youk will enjoy Japan, especially when he goes shopping around with the money he stole from the Yankees..12 Million a year and he played like 20 games or something ? what a waste of $$$

  45. Leonard Washington 2 years ago

    Youk had better master the katana in case he comes face to face with the dangerous Yakuza. They know he has a child that is half Brady. And as we all know legend foretells of a half Brady that will become the greatest swordsman the world has ever seen.

  46. bobbie922 2 years ago

    Kevin Youkilis, now The Godzilla of Walks.

  47. Verneuker 2 years ago

    Prolly a good deal for him. Certainly will be a different experience for Youk and his family. Less wear and tear on his body, most likely. As I understand it, Japanese parks are most often quite a bit smaller than US parks. Maybe he’ll put up Dave Kingman-like numbers (.220 but 35 HR). I wish him well.

  48. n dane 2 years ago

    Calif. is about 6,000 miles from Japan. I lived in the Phillipines for 14 years when I was young, so I know. N.Y. is about 3,000 miles from California. So which is closer?

  49. Joe 2 years ago

    He should have came home to Cincinnati. I’m sure Walt would have paid him $1 million more so come home an be Joey and Todd’s backup and a bat off the bench!!

    • GrilledCheese39 2 years ago

      So if you gave him 1 million more, and he can earn 5 for Japan, you’d give him 6 million to be a backup?

    • YehoshuaFriedman 2 years ago

      Do they have the DH in Japan? They don’t in Cincinnati. With the various injuries that could be an issue.

  50. Eslva917 2 years ago

    I’m gonna miss his batting stance.

  51. alexamato 2 years ago

    I’m still shocked by the move. however knowing Youk, he went to Japan not for the lack of opportunities/money, but because he wanted to experience Japan living

  52. Bryce Harper 2 years ago

    Literally my most hated player in all of sports. Will not be missed!

  53. BadBJay 2 years ago

    baseball fans should demand a posting fee for Youk!

  54. Karkat 2 years ago

    Japanese fans could actually have a good time with this, since “Youk” would be “Yuuku”, and the honorific suffix “-kun” is used for a friend, and so “Yuuuuuu-kun” would be a decent pun and also I’m a giant nerd.

  55. JacobyWanKenobi 2 years ago

    Is it a less formal version of Yujin? Yujin and Tomodachi were the only words for friend I understood.

    No shame nerdhood.

  56. Karkat 2 years ago

    “-kun” is an honorific suffix that is grammatically analogous to “-san.” It is generally used for a male friend who one feels comfortable being casual with. So “Mr. Youkilis” would be “Youkilis-san”, whereas “good ol’ pal Youkilis” would be “Youkilis-kun.” You typically wouldn’t call a stranger with “-kun” but I imagine athletes and celebrities are socially unique enough.

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