Fukudome to join Tigers: Minami


Free agent Kosuke Fukudome will sign a three-year deal with the Hanshin Tigers, according to team president Nobuo Minami, who revealed on Tuesday he had been informed of the outfielder’s intent.

The Tigers and the Yokohama BayStars were pursuing the 35-year-old former major leaguer, who was released this fall by the Yankee’s Triple-A club after starting the season with the Chicago White Sox. Earlier in the day, BayStars general manager Shigeru Takada revealed that Fukudome would not sign with his club.

The contract is for three years with an annual salary of ¥150 million with additional performance-based incentives.

“Out of all the offers he had, I’m extremely glad he chose the Tigers and Koshien Stadium,” said second-year manager Yutaka Wada. “We have high expectations for both his batting and fielding.”

The Tigers are coming off a fifth-place finish, their worst in 11 years. They scored a Central League-worst 411 runs, and the retirement of outfielder Tomoaki Kanemoto deprives them of one of their top run producers.

Fukudome has a .258 career batting average with 42 homers in five big league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and White Sox. He was released in the middle of this past season and signed a minor league deal with the Yankees.

The left-handed-hitting Fukudome is a two-time Central League batting champ and was the league’s MVP in 2006 with the Chunichi Dragons. He left as a free agent following the club’s Japan Series triumph and signed with the Cubs.