Kevin Youkilis is hitting .319 with 18 RBIs in 18 games for the White Sox

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Kevin Youkilis’ return to Boston has so far consisted of four hits in two games, including a homer and two doubles, and the Red Sox castoff is now batting .319 with four homers, a .965 OPS, and 18 RBIs in 18 games since being traded to the White Sox.

It’s early, of course, but he’s basically performing like vintage Youkilis from 2008-2010, hitting for average and power while drawing walks and controlling the strike zone. And the White Sox are 12-6 with him in the lineup.

Meanwhile, rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks has hit .191 for Boston since the trade and the Red Sox have already designated for assignment Brent Lillibridge, who’s one of the two marginal players they received in dumping Youkilis.

Toss in David Ortiz potentially missing time with an Achilles’ tendon injury and the idea that Boston’s excessive third base/first base/designated hitter depth made trading Youkilis a must no matter how well he went on to hit and how little they got in return is looking a whole lot more difficult to justify.

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.