Japenese star Masataka Yoshida has signed a five-year, $90 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, via Jeff Passan.
BREAKING: Outfielder Masataka Yoshida and the Boston Red Sox are in agreement on a contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 7, 2022
Boston had to pay an additional posting fee from the Orix Buffaloes of around $15.4 million, making the deal a total of $105.4 million. This is a great signing for the Red Sox. One of their main issues in 2022 was finding production from the lead-off spot. Yoshida will most likely fill that void. This will open the door for the Sox to potentially move Alex Verdugo for another bullpen arm or starting pitcher. Since Yoshida will probably be an everyday player and is a left-handed batter, it would only make sense to get something good for Verdugo while they have the chance. It seems Boston will be making a push for the division title after the two signings today, including closer Kenley Jansen. So, don’t be surprised if Xander Bogaerts is signed to a brand new contract with Boston by tomorrow.
Mastaska Yoshida’s Career in Japan
The 29-year-old outfielder has been with the Buffaloes in the JPPL since 2016. He made a direct impact during his rookie year and has only gone up from there. He is a career .326 hitter and has a .957 OPS at all levels of his career. Now, he is coming off the best season of his career this past season with Orix. He batted .336 with a 1.007 OPS (led NPB) and hit 21 home runs. He also led NPB in OPS in 2021.
Yoshida is able to get on base and put the ball in play at a very high level. Last season he had 508 plate appearances and only struck out 41 times with 80 walks. Luis Arraez is the only player in MLB that had a lower strikeout rate than him. People may argue that he faced less talented pitchers in Japan, but numbers like that don’t just disappear when going to a new league. There have been many Japanese players that lived up to the hype and thrived in MLB. That list includes but is not limited to; Shohei Ohtani, Hideki Matsui, Ichiro Suzuki, and Seiya Suzuki.
This is exactly what the Red Sox needed. Chaim Bloom was willing to spend to get his lead-off batter for years to come. Only time will tell if Boston is able to get a deal done with Bogaerts. After that, a Rafael Devers extension should be the team’s top priority. If that gets done, that would put the Red Sox in an excellent spot for four to five years.