With a dozen Xander Bogaerts reports on Wednesday, no one saw this free-agent signing coming.
On Wednesday evening, Jeff Passan broke the news that the Red Sox are signing Masataka Yoshida, the star outfielder from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league who’d only been posted that morning.
The Sox have accelerated rapidly after a seemingly sluggish first few days of Winter Meetings, but they desperately needed outfield help and the free-agent market is thin. They were interested in Mitch Haniger earlier in the week, but he signed with the San Francisco Giants, instead.
Red Sox signing Japanese star Masataka Yoshida to 5-year deal
Yoshida’s contract is for $90M and they also have to pay his former team, the Orix Buffaloes, a $15.4M posting fee, bringing their total expense to $105.4M.
Before the signing, Chaim Bloom called him a “great talent” capable of quality at-bats, and Yoshida has garnered rave reviews for his plate discipline and ability to hit for both power and average. In 781 games in Japan, he drew 427 walks and only struck out 307 times. In 2022, he had an impressive 41-to-80 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 508 plate appearances; Luis Arraez was the only MLB player with a lower strikeout rate this year. Over seven seasons, the two-time batting champ hit .326/.419/.538 with 900 hits, including 135 home runs and 164 doubles.
Yoshida joins an outfield currently comprised of Alex Verdugo, Kiké Hernández, Rob Refsnyder, and potentially, Jarren Duran, though his offensive and defensive struggles forced the Sox to demote him to Triple-A last summer.
It’s a from-the-top-rope kind of move by the Sox. While they’re at it, how’s it going with Bogaerts?