Masataka Yoshida signed a five-year deal at $90M to help solidify the Red Sox outfield. In addition, a posting fee ballooned the final expenditure to $105.75 M. The contract met with resounding negativity from a legion of "experts" who condemned the team's apparent generosity. How wrong they were.
Yoshida has been what the Red Sox expected except in one category from my view - Masataka's 8.6 BB % is right at the MLB average - instead of a figure that reflects his performance in Japan, which was 15.7%. The bat control is apparent with an 11.2K% -- about one-half league average.
The knock on Yoshida was his defense, and it has been pure "meh" and unspectacular with a -3 UZR/150 and -5 DRS. Yoshida will not elicit memories of Andrew Benintendi or, on the other side of the coin Manny Ramirez.
Through July 3, Yoshida hit .305/.377/.477 with 133 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR. Toss in nine home runs, 21 doubles, and 41 RBI, and Yoshida is piecing together an excellent MLB introductory season. Whenever it looks like the pitchers have caught up, Yoshida adjusts, and the hits start coming. Home (.311) or away (.299) make no difference. I favor Yoshida getting a batting title sometime in the next five years. Now what about Alex Verdugo?
Is Alex Verdugo worth a Masataka Yoshida contract?
At age 27, Verdugo is two years younger than Yoshia and has made overtures about an extension with the Red Sox. The offensive numbers are quite similar this season, with Verdugo batting .295/.363/.464 with 124 wRC+ and 2.1 fWAR. Verdugo has made a name for himself with several impressive walk-off wins.
The separation point is with defense, where Verdugo may not be elite but is coming close to it, ranking eighth among American League outfielders. Verdugo has ten DRS and has made great throws to cut down runners and seal a win. Is Verdugo worth Yoshida money?
Based on performance this season, an extension of Verdugo would make sense to Boston and avoid the usually anticipated drama of a free agent year. Then there is further drama as the trade deadlines open, and Verdugo has already been linked as a possible trade piece.
Verdugo, Yoshida, and the surprising Jarren Duran are all lefties, and all three in the outfield in 2024 could see the Sox face a lefty overload. Duran and Verdugo are hitting lefties at a .250 clip this season, and Yoshida is at .274. With Adam Duval on a one-year deal, that would leave Rob Refsnyder and the lone righty, or would it?
Worcester is now the home of prospect Ceddanne Rafaela, who has more tools than Home Depot. Can this kid impress enough to get a preview this season? Is Rafaela's sufficient shine for the Red Sox to trade off Verdugo?
Based on performance, Verdugo is worth the money, and an extension would lock down a player reaching the prime years of his career - a situation that Boston fans have witnessed too frequently the last few years
The Red Sox have Alex Verdugo open to an extension of his contract. Based on a comparison, he may be worth the same money they doled out to Masataka Yoshida.