UPDATE2: Fukudome to join Tigers

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NISHINOMIYA, Japan, Dec. 25 (20:23) Kyodo


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 DeNA 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, DeNA 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 yen 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.

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