Kosuke Fukudome

fukudome running bases

Kosuke Fukudome returns to Japan

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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.

Yankees sign Kosuke Fukudome to minor-league contract

White Sox pinch hitter Fukudome hits into an out in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox during their MLB baseball game in Chicago
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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.

Kosuke Fukudome released by White Sox

White Sox pinch hitter Fukudome hits into an out in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox during their MLB baseball game in Chicago
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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.