Trade talks involving Kevin Youkilis are picking up

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According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com, trade talks regarding Kevin Youkilis have “intensified” over the past 24 to 48 hours.

While a deal isn’t considered imminent, one high-ranking official with a National League club said that the veteran third baseman is “being shopped everywhere.” The report names the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Dodgers, Indians and Pirates among the teams who have expressed interest.

Youkilis is only hitting .215/.301/.341 with four home runs, 13 RBI and a .641 OPS through 39 games this season, including his current 1-for-21 (.048) stretch, so the Red Sox certainly aren’t selling high here. With that in mind, they have told teams that they are willing to include cash in order to get a better player in return. The 33-year-old is still owed roughly half of his $12 million salary for this season while his $13 million option for 2013 carries a $1 million buyout.

If Youkilis is moved, rookie Will Middlebrooks would take over the starting third base job in Boston.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.