Essex have announced that wicketkeeper Adam Wheater has bought out the remainder of his contract to allow him to join Hampshire.
The 23-year-old made 50 appearances in five seasons with Essex, but his first-team prospects were limited as he was behind both James Foster and Ben Foakes in the pecking order.
Essex head coach Paul Grayson said: "Over the winter months, Adam made it very clear that he would like to progress his wicket-keeping.
"He is the third choice keeper at Essex behind James Foster and Ben Foakes, and Hampshire have given him assurances that he will be their first choice at the club."
However, Hampshire denied suggestions that Wheater was assured of being first-choice gloveman at the Rose Bowl after confirming his signing.
Hampshire manager Giles White said: "Adam will add competition with the gloves and comes with an impressive first-class batting average.
"We have experienced, first-hand, that he is a young player with great ability and we hope that he is able to fulfil his potential and build on what has been a bright start to his career.
"Contrary to reports, no assurances or promises have been made to Adam but we are delighted that he has chosen to pursue his career at Hampshire."
Wheater, who is spending the winter with Northern Districts in New Zealand, added: "Signing with Hampshire has entered me into a new and exciting chapter in my career.
"As a club they've experienced a lot of recent success and I want to help continue that to repay the faith they've shown in me."