After sending Alex Verdugo to the Yankees and losing Adam Duvall (for now) to free agency this offseason, the Red Sox still have work to do in their outfield.
It mostly entails finding places for the excessive number of players they're working with — Masataka Yoshida, Jarren Duran, Tyler O'Neill, Ceddanne Rafaela, Rob Refsnyder and Wilyer Abreu are among the Red Sox who need to find homes in the pastures this offseason. Other than O'Neill, none of the Sox's available outfielders have the proven stuff to consistently handle the particularly difficult right field dimensions of Fenway Park.
Besides having to find places for all its outfielders, Boston's batting order needs consistent power. And after his first year of big-league experience, Yoshida could provide what the Sox need on a greater scale in 2024. Fans were thrilled with his production during his rookie season.
But is Yoshida's status now up in the air? According to The Athletic's Jen McCaffrey and Ken Rosenthal, teams have approached the Red Sox about acquiring Yoshida. Craig Breslow and Co. aren't actively planning to trade Yoshida yet, but "they are open to virtually any idea as they seek to build a better roster," McCaffrey and Rosenthal added.
The Red Sox need to give Masataka Yoshida another season to prove himself
If Boston is concerned about power in its batting order, Yoshida needs to be a fixture in 2024. Many Red Sox fans were certainly disappointed with the way he finished the 2023 season, but there's no denying his overall numbers (.289/.338/.445 with 15 home runs and 72 RBI) in his first taste of MLB action. The 29-year-old also added 33 doubles.
Yoshida's lefty bat will take some time to adjust to Fenway and the Monster. Once he does, his beautiful swing and lower-half strength could bring more power to the top of the Sox's order to go along with his high rate of contact.
Yoshida's 2023 World Baseball Classic performance alone should convince Boston to keep him. Yoshida had ice in his veins for the whole tournament — he set a WBC record with a whopping 13 RBI throughout the competition and sent Japan to the championship with a monster three-run homer to beat Mexico in the semifinal.
Shopping Yoshida at this juncture would also not be a good look for the Sox. There's next to no justification for giving an international superstar one season to prove himself in a completely new environment. Plus, it's hard enough to get players to come to Boston as it is.
Yoshida will find himself in time. He has the potential to rake for the Red Sox, but playing for a team with such demanding fans in a new country takes serious adjustment on multiple fronts. It's in Boston's best interest to keep an international star like Yoshida in the lineup, for his talent and his pull.