Updated: 12/21/2013 07:03 | By Agence France-Presse

'Former All-Star Youkilis headed to Japan'

Former All-Star third baseman Kevin Youkilis, a free agent after an injury-plagued 2013 season with the New York Yankees, is reportedly heading to Japan to join the Rakuten Golden Eagles.


'Former All-Star Youkilis headed to Japan'

Kevin Youkilis of the New York Yankees makes a play at first base at Yankee Stadium on April 27, 2013 in the Bronx borough of New York City

Youkilis' agent, Joe Bick, confirmed the one-year deal for 2014 to MLBTradeRumors.com on Friday, saying the move was "a life experience that was too good to pass up."

Youkilis, 34, was limited by back trouble to just 28 games and hit a career-low .219 with two home runs and eight runs batted in in 2013.

He didn't play after June 13, undergoing a surgical procedure to repair a herniated disc in his spine.

Youkilis had been one of the American League's premier hitters while with the Boston Red Sox from 2007-2010.

In those four seasons he averaged 23 homers and 88 RBI along with a .303 average and finished third in voting for the 2008 American League Most Valuable Player award with career-bests of 29 homers, 115 RBI and a .312 average.

An extremely popular player during his nine-year tenure in Boston, Youkilis also was a key part of two World Series titles with the Red Sox in 2004 and 2007 and was named an All-Star three times.

At Rakuten he'll be replacing another American with big league experience. Casey McGehee played third base for the Golden Eagles last season but signed with the Miami Marlins this week.

Rakuten is also the team that owns the rights to prized Japanese hurler Masahiro Tanaka.

MLB.com reported Friday that the Golden Eagles are still undecided as to whether they will post Tanaka, widely considered the best potential pitcher available on the current free-agent market, and allow him to move to the US major leagues next season.

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