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Cubs cut ties with first baseman Bryan LaHair

Bryan LaHair

Bryan LaHair

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Updated: December 22, 2012 6:35AM

Bryan LaHair’s unusual 2012 season with the Cubs took him from starting first baseman to All-Star to bench player.

On Tuesday, the Cubs designated him for assignment while working to help him sign with a team in Japan.

The move was one of several the Cubs made, including acquiring minor-league right-hander Barret Loux from the Texas Rangers for Class AA right-hander Jake Brigham and adding four players to their 40-man roster.

Loux, 23, and a player to be named will join the Cubs, while Brigham, 24, will return to the Rangers after coming over in July as part of the trade for catcher Geovany Soto.

LaHair began the season by winning the first-base job after the Cubs decided not to re-sign Carlos Pena. He was considered the placeholder until prospect Anthony Rizzo was ready to take over.

But LaHair, 30, surprised the Cubs — and the National League — with a strong first half that saw him hit .286 with 14 home runs and 30 RBI. Those statistics earned him a selection to the NL All Star team in voting among players.

Rizzo’s promotion to the Cubs in June changed things, relegating LaHair to the bench for most of the rest of the season. He hit only .202 with two homers and 10 RBI in the second half.

In other moves, the Cubs added Class AA right-hander Trey McNutt, Class AA infielder Logan Watkins, Class A infielder Christian Villanueva and Class A right-hander Robert Whitenack to their 40-man roster.

McNutt, 23, has a 27-16 record with a 3.45 ERA in four minor-league seasons. He entered the 2012 season ranked as the fourth-best prospect in the organization by Baseball America.

Watkins, 23, was named the Cubs’ 2012 minor-league player of the year after hitting .281 with nine homers and 52 RBI. He led the Southern League in runs scored and was second in triples.

Villanueva, 21, was acquired from the Rangers as part of the trade for right-hander Ryan Dempster.

Whitenack, 24, pitched at Daytona last season after coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2011.

The Cubs also added right-hander Carlos Gutierrez to the roster at Class AAA Iowa after he cleared waivers.

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