Kevin Youkilis has reached an agreement with the Rakuten Golden Eagles that will have him spend the 2014 season in Japan, according to Patrick Newman via Nikkan Sports. The 34-year-old's deal is reported to be a one-year contract with a base salary of $4 million. He could also earn up to $1 million in performance incentives.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick adds that 2014 could be Youkilis' final season.
A three-time All-Star and former Gold Glove award winner, Youkilis spent the first 8 and a half years of his career with the Boston Red Sox. He accrued a 31.3 WAR in Boston as he emerged as one of the best hitters in the game with a knack for getting on base as evidenced by his .281/.382/.478 career batting line. His best season probably came in 2009 when he hit .305/.413/.548 with 27 home runs, 99 runs scored, 77 walks, a 6.9 WAR, and a 146 OPS+, though you could argue his .312/.390/.569 (144 OPS+, 6.3 WAR, finished 3rd in AL MVP voting) 2008 season was better.
Youkilis left the Red Sox in a midseason trade to the Chicago White Sox in June of 2012. After an 80 game stint in Chicago, he decided to move on, signing a one-year, $12 million contract with the Yankees last winter. Unfortunately, injuries allowed him to play in just 28 games for New York. He reportedly received interest from as many as 9 MLB teams this offseason.
Youkilis had previously expressed a desire to play closer to his home in California in order to spend more time with his family. However, Youkilis' wife and children will join him in Japan for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend a year enriched abroad.