The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of the Nippon Professional Baseball league of Japan have released former big leaguer Bryan LaHair, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). LaHair was transferred to the Hawks from the Cubs after the 2012 season, agreeing to a two-year, $4.7MM deal that included an opt-out provision.
LaHair had a breakout 2012 season as a 29-year-old, posting huge first-half numbers that led to an unlikely All-Star appearance. But he faded in the back half of the year, ultimately ending up with a .259/.334/.450 line for the season, including 16 home runs, over 380 plate appearances. In Japan last year, LaHair matched that tally of homers over a similar 389 plate appearances, but saw his line dip to .230/.306/.428.
The left-handed swinging LaHair has seen time at both first and the corner outfields, increasing his versatility. He was limited almost exclusively to facing righties in his big 2012 season, and has only 96 career MLB plate appearances against southpaws, over which he has a meager .380 OPS. In his last full season in the minors, 2011, LaHair posted a 1.120 OPS against righties and a .875 mark against same-handed hurlers.
LaHair joins a thin group of corner options with left-handed power, and could prove attractive to MLB clubs looking for some pop off of the bench.