- Tim Burke
Red Sox Sign Masataka Yoshida to Record-Breaking Deal
The Boston Red Sox signed Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five-year deal for 90 million. As a player from Nippon Professional Baseball, Yoshida was required to be posted to gain international Free-Agent status. Yoshida's posting was 15.4 million, so the total cost of the contract will be 105.4 million. This is the largest contract for an international Free Agent for an NPB position player in history. Yoshida is one the best international Free Agents in recent memory and has benefited from his credential NPB and thin outfielder market. The Red Sox Front Office has been much more patient recently but showed aggressiveness today, considering Yoshida was just posted today. It is clear the Red Sox very much wanted the Japanese star.
In 7 seasons with the NPB, Yoshida has torn the cover off the ball, hitting .327 AVG, 133 HR, and 467 RBIs with a .960 OPS. Yoshida is also a two-time NPB batting champion winning in 2020 and 2021. I mentioned in a previous article that the Red Sox desperately needed a lead-off hitter with their terrible production at the top of the order. Well, Yoshida is who they believe can answer their problem. The 29-year-old outfielder has had a minimum .300 batting average, an on base percentage of at least .400 and a slugging percentage of .500 or above in each of his last six seasons. His most outstanding tools are his elite plate discipline and contact rate which are illustrated by his 15.8% walk rate and 8.1 strike-out rate. Those numbers will undoubtedly dip in the Major Leagues, given the more consistent pitching throughout the league. However, the Red Sox believe his talent will translate to the Major League level. Japan's manager for the 2022 World Baseball Classic, Hideki Kuriyama, has described Yoshida as a player great at making adjustments, a characteristic that will certainly benefit Yoshida as he transitions to North American Baseball.
This is a risky signing, but Boston needs a player with Yoshida's plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills. Those were qualities the 2022 lineup lacked. Scouts often draw comparisons to Major League players for international signings. Many have compared Yoshida to a left-handed hitting Dustin Pedroia or reigning AL batting champ Luis Arraez. I prefer to avoid comparing international players to Major League stars; it is limiting. Still, it is worth noting that scouts are comparing him to such talented Major League players. Personally, I love this signing for the Red Sox. This addresses a significant team need, and Yoshida was likely the best lead-off type hitter available. Brandon Nimmo was a terrific option, but he is rarely healthy. Yoshida has the ability to be a star in the Major Leagues. It is always slightly concerning that international Free Agents will have difficulty translating to the Major Leagues. Yoshida is no exception. But his highlight video makes a good case for Yoshida to be an MLB star.
What a swing. I have a great feeling about this signing. Welcome to Boston, Masataka Yoshida.