LaHair's move to Japan official

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LaHair's move to Japan official

When the Cubs designated Bryan LaHair for assignment Tuesday, all indications were the slugger would wind up in Japan.

The move overseas was made official Wednesday, with LaHair agreeing to a two-year contract with the SoftBank Hawks worth 4.7 million and 2 million a year in incentives, according to MLBTradeRumors' Ben Nicholson-Smith.

Details on LaHair deal: incl. signing bonus and buyout its a 4.7M deal for two years. Each year has 2M in incentives. Opt out after 2013. Ben Nicholson-Smith (@mlbtrben) November 22, 2012
As ESPN's Buster Olney reported, the Cubs received 950,000 in the deal.

LaHair's move to Japan is not altogether shocking.

Last winter, LaHair was coming off a phenomenal season at Triple-A Iowa (38 HR, 109 RBI) and a solid start to his Cubs career (.885 OPS in 69 plate appearances), but it was unknown exactly where he would fit in the new regime when Theo Epstein took over.

But while unfounded rumors had the Cubs reportedly courting Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder through the MLB winter meetings, LaHair was contemplating making a move to Japan to further his career. Epstein said it would probably be a mistake for LaHair to go to Japan and thought the slugger had earned a shot to play in the big leagues.

So LaHair stayed and he parlayed a hot start to the 2012 season into an All-Star appearance, but hit just .194 in July and .205 in August, giving way to Anthony Rizzo at first base.

Upon Rizzo's arrival, LaHair moved to right field -- pushing David DeJesus to center -- but struggled defensively and eventually lost his everyday job when Brett Jackson and the youth movement took effect in the season's final couple months.

As the Cubs attempt to improve their roster after a 101-loss season, there wasn't really a spot for LaHair in the team's immediate future.

CubsTalk Podcast: Top prospect update

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USA TODAY

CubsTalk Podcast: Top prospect update

Mick Gillispie — the broadcaster for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies as well as the Cubs' spring training broadcaster — joins Tony Andracki to break down some of the organization's top prospects, analyzing the beginning of the 2017 season for guys Ian Happ, Duane Underwood, Eloy Jimenez, Chesny Young, Victor Caratini and Trevor Clifton.

Mick also explains the wackiest game in Smokies history, how a winning culture has disseminated throughout the Cubs minor-league teams and what the World Series ring ceremony was like in Tennessee.

Check out the latest edition of the CubsTalk Podcast:

Cubs tinker with rotation for series in Boston

Cubs tinker with rotation for series in Boston

With all the off-days in the season's opening month, it's given the Cubs an opportunity to tinker with their rotation.

They're shaking things up with the order again ahead of the three-game set against the Red Sox in Boston. The Cubs will roll with Jake Arrieta Friday on CSN, John Lackey Saturday and Kyle Hendricks Sunday. 

Hendricks just threw Tuesday night in the second game of the Pirates series in Pittsburgh. He enjoyed the best start of his 2017 season, allowing six baserunners in six shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 4.50 and WHIP to 1.27.

Despite the strong start, the 2016 MLB ERA leader wasn't willing to say he's "back."

"It's just one start," he told reporters Tuesday night. "It's not a "back" thing. I'm not in the zone, dialed in like I was last year. That was a completely different feeling and sensation.

"[But I] felt a lot better. It's more on track."

Brett Anderson will get an extra day and is on track to start the first game back at Wrigley against the Philadelphia Phillies Monday.

Assuming there are no other changes to the rotation, Jon Lester will follow Anderson before the Arrieta-Lackey-Hendricks trio goes again.

The Cubs won't have another off-day until Thursday, May 11 and are set to play 13 games in 13 days.