Youkilis heading to Japan

The Sports NetworkDecember 20, 2013 

(SportsNetwork.com) - Former All-Star third baseman Kevin Youkilis will apparently be continuing his playing career in Japan, with the veteran major leaguer agreeing to a one-year contract with the Rakuten Golden Eagles for the 2014 season.

Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, confirmed the deal to MLBTradeRumors.com on Friday, calling the move "a life experience that was too good to pass up."

The soon-to-be 35-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued 2013 campaign with the New York Yankees in which he was limited to only 28 games by back problems and hit a career-low .219 with two home runs and eight RBI. Youkilis did not play after June 13 due to a surgical procedure to repair a herniated disc.

Youkilis had been one of the American League's premier hitters during a four- year stretch with the Boston Red Sox from 2007-10. During that time frame, he averaged 23 homers and 88 RBI along with a .303 average and finished third in voting for the 2008 AL MVP after posting career-bests of 29 homers, 115 RBI and a .312 average.

An extremely popular player during his nine-year tenure in Boston, Youkilis also was a key part of two World Series titles with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 and was named an All-Star three times, most recently in 2011.

Youkilis will be replacing another American with big league experience in Rakuten, as Casey McGehee served as the Golden Eagles' third baseman last season before signing with the Miami Marlins earlier this week.

Rakuten is also the team that owns the rights to prized Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka. MLB.com reported Friday that the Golden Eagles are still undecided as to whether they will post Tanaka, widely considered the best potential pitcher available on the current free-agent market, and allow him to play in the majors next season.

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