Kevin Youkilis, who just recently rebuffed the Bronx Bombers in talks of playing another season in New York due to ‘wanting to play closer to his home on the West Coast’, has agreed to a one-year contract with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan for the 2014 season, his agent confirmed Friday.
Youkilis will have a $4 million base salary and can earn $1 million in bonuses — including some based on walks, a provision not allowed in major league contracts.
“He’s looking at this as a terrific life experience for his family,” agent Joe Bick said. “There were a number of opportunities and inquiries and conversations that took place here [in the U.S.]. But in the final analysis, this is what the family decided they wanted to do.”
Youkilis, 34, is a three-time All-Star and a .281 career hitter in 10 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees. His best season came in 2008, when he hit .312 with 29 homers and 115 RBIs with the Red Sox and won the Hank Aaron Award.
Youkilis underwent back surgery last June and appeared in only 28 games with the Yankees. He’s expecting to play first and third for Rakuten, the defending Japan Series champion.
Bick said Youkilis, his wife, Julie, and their two children, ages 7 and 1, plan to spend the 2014 season together in Japan.
“Kevin’s intent is to play one more year,” said Bick, although he wouldn’t rule out Youkilis playing beyond the 2014 season.
At Rakuten, Youkilis may become teammates with star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, who went 24-0 last season, While Tanaka wants to join the major leagues, Rakuten is reluctant to make him available in the new posting season, and the 25-year-old right-hander can’t leave as a free agent until after the 2015 season.
“We were talking with eight or nine other clubs over here,” Bick said. “In the final analysis, he said the right thing for my family and me is to go do this. It will be a wonderful life experience.”