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Kosuke Fukudome signs with Hanshin Tigers

The veteran outfielder will return to Japan after five MLB seasons.

Otto Greule Jr

Following five mostly successful seasons of Major League Baseball, veteran outfielder Kosuke Fukudome is returning to Japan. The 35-year-old has signed a three-year deal with the Hanshin Tigers of the NPB, according to Sponichi News (in Japanese).

Fukudome originally came to the MLB in 2008 on a four-year, $48 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. While the right fielder had success out of the gate -- making the All-Star team his rookie year -- he never quite lived up to the expectations that Cubs fans had for him.

The left-handed hitter always had the knack for getting on base, but was never able to produce the power numbers expected of a corner outfielder. In three and a half years with the Cubs, Fukudome hit .262/.369/.403 with 37 home runs in almost 2,000 plate appearances.

Once he left the friendly confines of Wrigley Field, things went downhill quickly for Fukudome. After a sub-par half season with the Cleveland Indians, the outfielder was picked up in February by the Chicago White Sox. He appeared in only 24 games for the Chi Sox, hitting just .171/.294/.195 with no home runs before being released in June.

The Yankees signed him to a minor-league contract the following month, but he never made it back to the big leagues.