Kosuke Fukudome has returned to Japan after five seasons in America, with Sponichi News reporting that he’s agreed to a three-year deal with the Hanshin Tigers.
Fukudome was largely viewed as a huge bust after leaving Japan in 2008 to sign a four-year, $48 million deal with the Cubs, but while he certainly wasn’t worth that investment he did prove to be a solid (if incredibly streaky) player with a .360 on-base percentage in 596 games.
He spent most of last season in the minors at age 35, so Fukudome was unlikely to get more than a minor-league deal if he remained in America.
Released by the White Sox last month, Kosuke Fukudome has signed a minor-league contract with the Yankees.
Marc Carig of the Newark Star Ledger reports that the 35-year-old outfielder will head to Triple-A and try to convince the Yankees he’s worth adding as a bench bat down the stretch.
Fukudome obviously never lived up to the hype with the Cubs and he was injured and ineffective in a brief stint with the White Sox, but as a left-handed hitter with good on-base skills he has some value.
For his career against right-handed pitching Fukudome has hit .260 with a .366 on-base percentage and .768 OPS.
No other teams claimed him off waivers and the White Sox couldn’t find a taker via trade, so they released Kosuke Fukudome today after designating him for assignment last week.
Fukudome played sparingly and poorly after signing a one-year, $1 million deal as a free agent and was on the disabled list with a back injury when the White Sox decided to cut him loose.
He failed to live up to expectations after leaving Japan to sign a four-year, $48 million contract with the Cubs in December of 2007, but Fukudome has a .359 career on-base percentage and can be plenty useful if platooned versus right-handed pitching.