LaHair's move to Japan official

LaHair's move to Japan official
November 22, 2012, 7:46 pm
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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.