Sounds Like Bryan LaHair is Indeed Heading to Japan

When he was designated for assignment last night, the Cubs indicated that they were trying to find a place for Bryan LaHair in Japan. Since they’d already gone to the trouble of DFA’ing him, that essentially meant they’d already found a place for LaHair in Japan.

And, so it is, as, according to ESPNChicago contributor and podcast-mate Sahadev Sharma, LaHair is off to Japan to join the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, where he can start, rake, and make some coin. Because he still has plausible bench value in the big leagues, I’m assuming that the Cubs are doing this largely at LaHair’s request. Given his age (30) and service time (not arbitration-eligible until 2015), this may have been his last chance to translate his baseball abilities into life-changing money.

The Cubs picked up a little something for themselves in the process, a cash payment just shy of $1 million. Sounds like a win, win, win to me.

Assuming this goes through, best of luck to Bryan. Your 2012 All-Star appearance, your game-tying homer against the Cardinals, and your final day walk-off hit will remain nice memories for Cubs fans.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

100 responses to “Sounds Like Bryan LaHair is Indeed Heading to Japan”

  1. zack

    Was at the last game of time season I’m going to miss him

  2. Internet Random

    “Your 2012 All-Star appearance, your game-tying homer against the Cardinals, and your final day walk-off hit will remain nice memories for Cubs fans.”

    Well said.

  3. DarthHater

    If LaHair really hits in Japan, MLB teams can use his stats as a benchmark for calculating the likely MLB performance of future Japanese players coming to the US. :-D

    1. hansman1982

      There have been numerous other Bryan LaHair’s just in the Cubs system to do this with.

      1. ETS

        matt murton

        1. Frank

          Tuffy Rhodes!

          1. die hard

            Smoky Burgess

  4. Todd

    Best of luck ! Hard not to root for a guy like Bryan!!

  5. Carne Harris

    Good luck, B. Sucks you weren’t given a fair shake in the bigs, but happy you’ll be making bank.

    1. DarthHater

      Sucks you weren’t given a fair shake in the bigs

      I think he got a pretty fair shake in the bigs. He got a chance to start for a MLB team at age 29; a chance to be an All-Star; and a chance to prove that he can’t hit lefties at the MLB level. He also got very fair contract treatment from the Cubs in helping him go to Japan.

      1. Carne Harris

        If Rizzo had the same fair shake that LaHair got, he’d be playing in Japan after last year with the Padres. Comes a point when projection is really just a self-fulfilling prophesy. Could LaHair have figured it out at the major league level? I don’t know. Should he have gotten the same opportunity to that Rizzo did? Yup.

        1. Kyle

          He got 380 plate appearances this year and 599 in his career. Rizzo had 153 plate appearances with the Padres last year.

          1. Carne Harris

            And was an All-Star and 1.000+ OPS the first half. Rizzo had a bad run of 153 PA’s last year. You subtract the last 153 PA’s from LaHair this year he has a line of .295/.375/.563.

            1. DarthHater

              Yea, and if you subtract the PAs in which he made an out, he has a line of 1.000/.992/1.739! Take that, Rizzo!

              1. Carne Harris


        2. DarthHater

          And if a single, solitary major-league organization agreed with you, then LaHair would have gotten traded to them yesterday. It’s easy to say that projection is a self-fulfilling prophecy, but when you’re 30 years old, have almost 600 major league plate appearances and over 4,000 minor league plate appearances, and all 30 ML teams don’t want you, there’s more than prophecy going on.

          1. Carne Harris

            Assuming they shopped him to MLB teams, no one biting has more to do with the relative ease of picking up a (younger) 1b in the Rule 5 without having to give anything up. Could also have to do with teams guessing the Cubs were going to DFA him and could pick him up that way without giving anything up.

            1. hansman1982

              The fact he cleared waivers concludes that at least 30 GM’s and another 10-15 PBO’s don’t think he can play even when they get him for free.

              I can understand if be got literally 0 PA and was blocked by koyie hill or tony campana this year that’d be no real shot but he got a lot of AB’s

        3. Chet Masterson

          LaHair 2008 – Age 25 – 150 PAs
          LaHair 2012 – Age 29 – 380 PAs
          Rizzo 2011 – Age 22 – 153 PAs

          How much opportunity is enough for LaHair to prove it to all the doubters that he can play? He got notable playing time in 2 unique seasons in 2 different leagues.

          If you were the manager/GM, what would you do differently with LaHair?

        4. Mike

          Can you really say that he didn’t get a fair shot? LaHair had the same number of at bats for Seattle in 2008 (at an older age) as Rizzo did for SD in 2011. By the time Rizzo came up last year, LaHair had twice as many major league games and at bats as Rizzo had in 2011 (at a more advanced age, so less room for projection). The team had enough chance to see (at the major and minor league level) what he could and couldn’t do. Coincidentally, once opponents saw him a 2nd or 3rd time, they did too.

          Also, I think it’s more than fair for the team to try to move him to Japan where he can get paid rather than stashing him as a cheap bat off the bench until he becomes arbitration eligible.

          1. Carne Harris

            Boy, that’s the first time I’ve heard it argued that Seattle gave LaHair his shot. Usually I’ve heard it said that bad Spring Trainings kept them from giving him much of a chance.

        5. DarthHater

          Last season lines for Rizzo and LaHair in 368 and 380 PAs, respectively:

          Rizzo: .285 – .342 – .463
          LaHair: .259 – .334 – .450

          They appear fairly similar. But if you adjust LaHair’s 2012 numbers to the same righty-lefty breakdown as Rizzo’s 2012 numbers, then LaHair’s line becomes:

          LaHair: .215 – .304 – .378

          Those numbers are closer to Ian Stewart than they are to Rizzo. So, even though I love LaHair as much as the next guy, I still think he got a fair shot and is getting a good deal going to Japan.

          1. Carne Harris

            I’m not sure how going to Japan got worked in here. That’s great for him and I’m glad the FO stepped up like that.

    2. cheryl

      He got a fair shake up until Rizzo was brought up then things went south for him. He had limited batting opportnities. Rizzo is good, no doubt about that, but when you’re pulled from your natural position like LaHair was and more or less ride the bench as a rookie it was bound to have an effect on his play. I wish him luck in Japan. It sounds like he’ll have an opportunity to play on a regular basis.

  6. MaxM1908

    I really appreciate what the Cubs have done for LaHair. It speaks volumes about the character of this Front Office, and I have to imagine that it speaks to players as well. The FO didn’t have to let him go, but they wanted to give the best opportunity to him. I think they tried to do the same thing for Dempster. If you’re a free agent or a young player about to sign, I imagine stories like these have an impact on the perception of the organization. Hey, it may even counterbalance some of the facilities stigma.

    1. Rice Cube

      I agree with this. I don’t think the Cubs front office can hide their plan all that much anyway for the time being, but at least the players who sign here can appreciate that they’re honest.

    2. cRAaZYHORSE

      GO to Japan and make coin play everyday in a nation that embraces American players to a degree sounds great . The Cubs front office cant even trade a decent bench player . Sign and trade for pitchers off tommy johns, leave 3b empty and welcome back lazy Stewart. Yep its the Cubs Front office. but….. player development is what we cling to succeed. A couple of more high 90 to near hundred loss season. and little Theo should have some awesome drafts. Poor fans

  7. Greg

    It’s a good time to get paid in Yen, that’s for sure.

    1. DarthHater

      Perhaps we could attract free agents by offering to pay them in gold bars.

      1. Rice Cube

        Or perhaps…gold pressed latinum?


        1. DarthHater

          Replace Crane Kenney with that guy! ;-)

          1. Spencer

            sorta similar appearances

          2. dabynsky

            Got to admit that tt is going to be hard to not refer to him as anything but Grand Nagus Kenney from now on.

        2. Frank

          Or lots of laudanum . . .

      2. Greg

        Especially if we’re trying to recruit Montana State Representative Jerry O’Neil or Ron Swanson to play for the Cubs.

  8. Willis

    Good for him… I hope his career in NPB is as successful as Matt Murton’s.

  9. Spencer

    The Cubs are so good, they can DFA their All-Stars without batting an eye :)

    1. DarthHater

      Hey, we are only two position players, two starters, and a bullpen away from being average. Just ask Kyle! :-P

      1. Dr. Percival Cox

        *If everyone stays healthy and last year’s performance perfectly predicts this year’s performance.

        1. hansman1982

          and we ensure that we have 5 league average backup catchers to ensure we don’t have to use Koyie Hill and/or don’t give a damn about service time with our rookies.

          1. Dr. Percival Cox

            We’re a big market team. We don’t have to worry about service time. Everyone just gets $20 million contracts every year. Problem solved.

            1. cRAaZYHORSE

              Lol not a single person makes 20 mil a year on this team ..

            2. Kyle

              We mock what we know we can’t handle intellectually. It’s our way of dealing with the discomforting notion that someone is both better informed on the subject and disagreeing with you.

              It rolls uphill. You guys mock me, I mock Theo Epstein.

              1. Dr. Percival Cox

                Keep telling yourself that.

              2. ssckelley

                You really should start your own blog. You think you know everything so have that going for you. I have been visiting this site for about 8 months now and you make the same point over and over just using different means of getting to it. You are one of those forum tough guys that think they have more knowledge than everyone else and you want to make sure everyone knows it.

                Do you actually have a goal or do you just enjoy bullying people around with your opinions that you think are facts?

                1. Kyle

                  My goal is to enjoy myself by talking about the Chicago Cubs. I succeed.

                  I think I know more than most posters because I do know more than most posters.

                  I make sure everyone knows it because they like to make this about me. If people want to start these little sidesteps to take digs at me, then I reserve the right to remind them how awesome I am.

                  I don’t start a blog because that’s not as much fun for me.

                  1. Dr. Percival Cox

                    Hey Brett, I don’t think stuff like this is doing as much for your blog as you think it is.

                    1. Kyle

                      So Darth makes a post directly mocking me. You make a post obliquely mocking me. Hansman82 makes a post obliquely mocking me. You make a post obliquely mocking me. sckelley makes a post ripping me.

                      I make a post defending myself.

                      You call the teacher.

                      Feel good about that?

                    2. ssckelley

                      I agree, Kyle has his own agenda and should be using his own blog instead of using yours. I love reading peoples opinions, even when I do not agree with them. But seeing someone on here as much as Kyle basically saying the same thing over and over gets tiring.

                    3. DarthHater

                      I think “directly mocking” is a bit strong. “Mildly poking fun” would be more accurate. I happen to think that Kyle – including his sporadic long-windedness and occasional pomposity – is reasonably awesome and I do not in the least dispute that he knows a lot more about baseball than I do. That ain’t gonna stop me from having a little fun. I take my stand with the Goat – not “ignore ignore ignore,” but “let’s not take ourselves too seriously.”

                    4. Kyle

                      I don’t have a problem with being directly mocked, either :) I just don’t like people calling foul when I respond.

                    5. DarthHater

                      As a designated hater, I would never deny anybody’s inalienable right to respond. :-D

                    6. Spencer

                      newsflash: it’s ok for people to have differing opinions. if you don’t like what kyle has to say, don’t respond. but don’t belittle him either. makes you look child-like.

                    7. hansman1982

                      Kyle – I wasn’t mocking you. I was mocking the idea of being overly concerned about the backup (or even 4th string) catcher.

                      I do enjoy you posting here. I have learned a lot about the 2011 and 2012 Cubs and just how crappy of teams were fielded these past two years.

                  2. ssckelley

                    Wow, quite the ego you have there.

                  3. Lou

                    Can’t say I disagree with this position. Said the same thing yesterday.

              3. MichiganGoat


              4. hansman1982

                Is it possible to agree and disagree with a statement?

                1. Yes, I have no clue what you are saying – on one hand, the Cubs are terrible…on the other they are just a couple pieces away.

                2. I disagree that you are better informed. Just yesterday I showed you a team that had worse bad players than the Cubs and yet succeeded in the NL Central and I also showed you just how much of a hole the Cubs have been in for 2 seasons now. Oh, and that Theo is really good at building an offense without free agency.

        2. Kyle

          If anyone wants to get into projections, we can get into projection. But these arguments usually start with “we were so awful last year there’s no reason to try because nothing could possibly fix it,” so using last year’s performances is a logical starting point.

      2. jt

        Cubs had 5967 PA’s in 2012
        20712 of those were by guys with an OPS substantially lower than 0.700
        After May 14, LaHair had 256 PA’s that earned him an OPS of 0.608
        Add those to the really sucks pile of PA’s and that brings the total to 2968 PA’s without a clue.
        The only decent guys you lose are Johnson and Baker off the bench who in combo had 327 PA’s.
        Rizzo should add 300 and Castillo another 250 or a net gain of over 200 decent PA’s after the considered loss of Johnson/Baker
        A lg avg CF’er and a lg avg 3B would give The Cubs 1400 PA’s in which the batter would have a fighting chance.
        1500 to 1600 really sucks is a lot better than 2968 really really sucks
        So, with an ace, Garza, Shark, Wood, Baker plus a decent BP….yeah, they could be an average team.

        1. ssckelley

          You are also assuming Soriano can maintain his .821 OPS. But I see your point the glaring OPS bad spots were CF, 3rd, C, and 2nd. Barney is not going anywhere and hopefully Castillo can remain healthy for an entire season. If the Cubs can get +.700 OPS out of 3rd and CF it should improve their won/loss record. But I am not holding my breath on the Cubs going out and getting an ace for the starting pitching staff. I think we are looking at Garza and Shark for the top of the rotation.

          1. jt

            Valbuena will increase his OPS to the 0.720 range and take over 2B.

            1. ssckelley

              Valbuena would have to hit significantly better than Barney to justify moving him from there. Honestly I do not see Valbuena more than a good backup infielder who can play multiple positions and bats lefthanded.

              1. jt

                There was a huge change in Valbuena’s style of hitting in the 2nd half of 2012. His OBP rose a great deal but it was BB dependent. His SLG went down the tube. I don’t believe there is any way that was natural or self imposed. I think he must have been instructed to do so. He has at least gap power which he has again started to assert in the S. American Lg in which he is playing. I don’t say the numbers are all that significant. I’m saying the fact he is again trying to hit with authority is significant.
                If he takes what he has learned the 2nd half of last year and applies it to his natural stroke he could easily find a 0.330 OPB and a 0.390 SLG. If he can do that then he has enough glove to replace Barney.

                1. ssckelley

                  You could be right, but I think it will be a long season if the Cubs use Valbuena as a every day player (might be anyway). Just being a utility infielder would still get him on the field quite a bit.

                  1. cheryl

                    Is my memory wrong or wasn’t there also a change in LaHair’s system of hitting and he improved (except for hitting lefties)? And I believe the man that helped do this was let go.

                    1. hansman1982

                      between 2010 and 2011 he tweaked his swing…

          2. jt

            Soriano’s first 125 2012 PA’s resuleted in an OPS of 0.590. So he has room to regress. But even if he loses 50 points they could make up for that at SS and 2nd.

    2. Internet Random

      . . . without batting an eye

      There’s a Juan Marichal joke in there somewhere.

      1. DarthHater


  10. Mac
  11. Dr. Percival Cox

    If Tuffy Rhodes can hit 55 home runs in NPB, Bryan LaHair should tie the record in his second month. Good luck, Bryan.

  12. Hebner The Gravedigger

    A Tuffy Rhodes and a DS9 Quark reference….darn right it was a good day.

  13. Leo

    Off subject but thought I’d share. According to two sources who inquired about Stanton were told he’s not available -YET. The executives granted anonymity because they did not want to speak publicly about another team’s player. Almost agreed the package necessary to get Stanton would be 3 top-of-the-line major league or major league-ready players with next to no service time, plus another 2 or 3 prospects to fortify the Marlins farm system that would be the best in baseball.

    1. hansman1982

      remove the idea of the Cubs acquring Stanton. We simply do not, yet, have the farm system to acquire him which is why the mid-season sell off was so dang important. 2 offseasons ago a certain executive was able to acquire a helluva 1Bman without completely gutting his farm system. The Cubs had 0 chance to acquire that 1Bman – even to acquire, Gonzalez today would require gutting our farm system (literally Baez, 1 of Soler/Amora and a few others (seriously, look how much the Garza trade decimated our system)).

      1. Kyle

        I dunno, I think we could make a pretty competitive bid. We have a pretty good, really deep farm system and a couple of very good major-league players early in their service-time clocks.

        Rizzo would be a great first piece. He’s about as ideal as it gets: steps into the majors immediately and still has six years of pre-FA control ahead of him, and 1b appears to be a pretty big organizational hole for them (plus, it’s where Stanton would probably have to move pretty soon anyway).

        If they want a package of 3 big-leaguers with good service time and 2-3 prospects, something like:


        seems to fit that description. That’s a pretty fair deal, imo.

        1. Luke

          I’d try like anything to get them to take a package without Rizzo, but if that’s what it took to do the deal, I’d probably do the deal.

          Stanton is just about the only theoretically available player I’d pay that much for, though. That is a huge package.

        2. fortyonenorth

          Regardless of its merits, I can’t get into these types of trades. At the end of the day, Stanton’s just one guy–no matter how talented–and guys can break. I’d hate to mortgage the farm and then end up with nothing.

          1. Kyle

            What does “mortgage the farm” really mean, though? It’s just a phrase people throw around.

            Our farm system goes roughly 50 deep right now with guys who can legitimately be called prospects, maybe 60. Even if we traded 10 of them, would we really have mortgaged the whole farm?

            1. nkniacc13

              yeah but out of those 50 or 60 are really young prospects theree is no sure bet they turn out. so if you trade 10 of them you could be considered mortgage you future because you don’t have any idea which of them will be players and which will be career minor leaguers and not help your major league team at all

            2. Luke

              On top of that, the point of the farm system is provide the best possible players for the major league team, whether by developing them from within or enabling the team to trade for them. Trading from the farm system isn’t mortgaging it, it’s using it exactly as the system is meant to be used.

              Now if prospects are traded away for half a year of a player that will not be resigned, that’s different. Then the net benefit almost never outweighs the cost. That’s not the case with a hypothetical Stanton trade, though. The Cubs would certainly do everything in their power to lock him up long term.

      2. Luke

        The Garza trade didn’t decimate the farm system at all. Lee was expendable thanks to Castro, Guyer projected as a fourth outfielder, Castillo was higher on the depth chart than Chirnos, and in Garza the Cubs got back the pitcher they hoped Archer would turn into in a few years.

        In fact, I can make you a case that the Garza trade was almost necessary simply in that it thinned out some logjams in the farm system a bit while bringing back something the Cubs badly needed – a good starting pitcher to anchor the rotation.

        Sure, the Cubs gave up a lot of talent, but it takes talent to get talent. I actually think the Garza trade was fairly even.

  14. terencemann

    He’s going to be Wily Mo Pena’s teammate (assuming Pena sticks around). I think they’re now my favorite NPB team (not that I had one before).

  15. EB

    Good luck, Bryan. Hit some LaBombs for the Japanese fans

  16. Deez

    He was pretty much doomed the day we got Rizzo. Definitely wish him the best.

  17. Lou

    Think LaHair has the intangibles to take him in coaching if his wishes starting at some minor league capacity.

    1. Dr. Percival Cox

      I’d agree with that. He might be a surprisingly effective hitting coach — since everything he has is based on work and not natural ability.

      1. Lou

        Yeah, I really was swayed and drawn to him by his composure and level-headed mindset.

      2. cheryl

        Agree. One of the reasons I went to Wrigley for the first time was to see LaHair play. There was a different aura about him. He wasn’t like so many professional sports stars who have massive egos. You done good, Bryan!

  18. arta

    IMO he got more then a fair chance, he just couldn’t hit lefties and i was one of his biggest fans.

    1. ssckelley

      I did to, we all had images of him hitting 30-40 home runs last year. He just could not hit lefties and when his timing against righties got all screwed up he had no shot at recovering once Rizzo got called up.

  19. clark addison

    I just got back yesterday from a trip to Japan. Too bad I missed baseball season. But I did buy a Yomiuri Giants cap.

  20. Carew

    It looks like LaHair is gettin his payday. Something like 2 years for 4 mill. I’m sad he won’t be a Cub, but it is what it is. Good luck to him.

    1. cubchymyst

      Good for LaHair, hopefully he will make a few more All-star while in Japan.

    2. MoneyBoy

      Really?? Holy crap … good for you 6 !!!!

      Hey Ace … I was at the 2011 Sept night game vs Cincy when BLH hit a 2-strike, 2 out, 2 run HR in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game vs Leake and Cincy … the bomb came within inches of landing on Sheffield … Colvin hit the ball to straight away center twice … ONLY the wind kept in the park

      Day before, 6 had turned around a 100mph FB from one A Chapman – rope down the right field line … BB chimed in with (basically) WOWZER

      1. #1lahairfan

        I remember that game very well. I was listening to it on WGN . Sadly we still lost.

      2. cheryl

        Great news!! Its on MLB Trade rumors -$4.7 million.

        1. cheryl

          He has a buyout option for 2013 too. He may come back to the majors after he’s had a chance to survey his options afterthe years in JJapan – maybe as a coach. Bet BB will remember him for some time after that hit and sowill Dusty.

  21. Timmyt

    Bummer, he was mismanaged by the team and seemed to lose his confidence. Then again if you want to be a baller you gotta have infinite confidence. He’ll do well over there.