- Bruce Levine, Chicago baseball beat reporter
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CINCINNATI – Will the next destination for Chicago Cubs’ late bloomer Bryan LaHair be Japan?
According to scouting sources, numerous Japanese teams have been scouting and are prepared to make offers to LaHair, if he becomes a free agent following the 2011 season.
LaHair said he has had conversations with some representatives of Japanese baseball. If the Cubs keep him on their 40-man roster, however, he will continue to be under the team’s control.
There is some precedent of the Cubs allowing an Asian club to pursue one of their players. Former Cubs’ first baseman Micah Hoffpauir was sold to the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japanese Pacific League in the fall of 2010 for $200,000. Hoffpauir then signed a two-year contract. He’s making $700,000 in 2011.
Although LaHair is intrigued by the interest from Japan, his heart is set on being a major league player.
“Not coming from a lot of money, when you hear offers, you have to consider it,” LaHair said. “But the dream is to be in the major leagues. And this is where I want to be.”
Mike Quade has been impressed by the versatile LaHair.
“I’ve been impressed with his at-bats, but I’m not going to go nuts after watching a guy for just one week,” Quade said. “But I am looking at a guy against good competition for the first time, and he’s doing a lot of good stuff. He’s showing good plate discipline and he’s worked the pitch count extremely well. I’d like to see him keep it up over the next couple of weeks.”
Prior to getting called up this month, LaHair’s only other big league experience was with the Mariners in 2008. LaHair is has 10 hits in nine games with the Cubs.