Bryan LaHair has received his release from the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks on Thursday, according to MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo. LaHair had joined the Hawks following the 2012 season, reaching agreement on a two year, $4.7 Million deal after his rights were transferred by the Chicago Cubs.
The 31 year old Worcester, Massachusetts native is now a free agent.
Originally a 39th Round pick in the 2002 Draft by the Seattle Mariners, LaHair hit respectably in the minor leagues and reached Triple-A by 2006. His path would completely stall there, however, and he’d spent the bulk of the next three seasons there before the Mariners released him following the 2009 season. He’d sign with the Cubs and spent the better part of the next two seasons back at the level before finally earning a shot with the team in 2012.
LaHair played in 130 games for the Cubs that year, hitting .259/.334/.450 with 16 HR and 17 2B in 380 PA. A strong Spring Training won him a role out of the gate and he’d get off to a fast start, batting .286/.364/.519 before the All Star Break – earning him an unlikely selection to the team. The second half of the season wasn’t nearly as pretty as LaHair limped to a .202/.269/.303 line. Just seven of his extra base hits (2 HR, 5 2B) came following the break.
Primarily a first baseman, LaHair has seem time in each of the corner outfield positions and hits left-handed – a combination that could benefit hit given the thin market for left-handed power, as Jeff Todd at MLB Trade Rumors points out. LaHair could be an option for a team looking for something off their bench. He struggled this past season in Japan, hitting .230/.306/.428 in 389 PA, and may need to settle for a minor league deal somewhere.