Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida is coming to MLB after a fantastic career in Nippon Professional Baseball. Yoshida agreed to a five-year deal worth $90 million with the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
That deal is in addition to the $15.4 million posting fee the Sox will pay to sign Yoshida out of Japan.
Yoshida, 29, spent seven seasons with the Orix Buffaloes. Last season, he hit .335/.447/.561 with 21 home runs over 508 plate appearances. He also showed tremendous plate discipline, walking 80 times and striking out 41 times in 119 games.
It was a career-best season for Yoshida, though his numbers weren’t drastically out of line with the rest of his career with Orix. In seven seasons with the team, he carried a .327/.421/.539 slash line.
Yoshida was expected to receive significant interest from MLB teams after he was posted by Orix on Dec. 7. The outfield market isn’t robust behind Aaron Judge, signed by the New York Yankees to a nine-year, $360 million deal earlier Wednesday, and Brandon Nimmo, making Yoshida an appealing target for teams that missed out on those two players or were leery of betting on Michael Conforto after he missed all of 2021 due to injury.
Yoshida’s free agency was always going to move quickly. Once he was posted, MLB teams had 45 days to sign him. The Red Sox got a deal done quickly.
Considering his age and numbers, Yoshida should make an immediate impact in MLB. His bat-to-ball skills are strong, and his lack of strikeouts could lead to him being a high-average corner outfielder. Yoshida is also capable of hitting for moderate power, having logged four seasons with at least 20 home runs in NPB.
If Yoshida can live up to his promise, he could be an above-average offensive contributor in MLB in 2023.
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