Kosuke Fukudome was paid $47 million over the last four years, so there’s a lot less mourning required at his loss of employment than the average fourth outfielder. He probably doesn’t need to consider a new line of work after being DFA’d. In fact, he can go without considering the concept of ‘work’ for quite a while.
Another reason it’s fine to celebrate Fukudome’s departure is because it’s not about him. Don’t get the wrong idea, Kosuke’s .171/.294/.195 batting line inspired no attachment, but he’s become particularly expendable because his purpose has disappeared.
Prior to signing Fukudome, the White Sox outfield corps heaed into the year consisted of Dayan Viciedo (an unrefined slugger-in-the-making), Alejandro De Aza (talented, but not entirely proven and lacking in durability), Alex Rios (coming off of one of the worst offensive years ever seen), and Brent Lillibridge (probably the player people had the most confidence in).
Entering this group, Fukudome was the player who had most recently proven himself capable of putting together a competently-played entire major league season. Since at least one of these guys figured to be a disaster when thrusted into a starring role, Fukudome was brought on to step and provide the replacement-level starter in a pinch that would almost assuredly be needed.
- Alejandro De Aza has played in 68 of 70 games and established himself as the offense’s primary catalyst with a .369 OBP.
- Alex Rios has been a functional right-fielder. He makes up for never walking with a high average, has just enough power to justify his corner outfield spot, and is back in a defensive role where his athleticism can overpower any bad reads
- Dayan Viciedo had a terrible April, followed by an MVP-level May that launched the team into 1st place, followed by a terrible June. He hasn’t been good overall, but good enough to discourage having the plugged pulled on the idea of him learning on the job.
Brent Lillibridge is the only player who descended into being unplayable, and he’s been relegated to pinch-runner/defensive replacement status as a result.
There’s no room at that rung of the ladder for Fukudome. There was never room for Fukudome in an outfield with three capable starters who don’t require frequent ‘mental breaks’, or other interruptions from their poor performance.
Things have been pretty far from peachy keen with the offense the past two weeks, as is evidenced by their output against Travis Wood not being much better it was against Zack Greinke. But at least with Fukudome’s departure, they’re feeling safe enough to take off the training wheels.