Report: Red Sox sign Japanese OF Masataka Yoshida


OSAKA, JAPAN – MARCH 10: Outfielder Masataka Yoshida #34 of Japan hits a grand slam to make it 0-4 in the bottom of the 1st inning during the game two between Japan and Mexico at Kyocera Dome Osaka on March 10, 2019 in Osaka, Japan. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox have made another splash in free agency. Hours after reportedly signing veteran closer Kenley Jansen to a two-year contract, they appear to have reached an agreement with Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

ESPN's Jeff Passan reports the Red Sox are signing Yoshida to a five-year deal. The contract is worth more than $90 million and the posting fee for the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball league will be $15.4 million.

Yoshida, 29, slashed .335/.447/.551 with 21 homers and 89 RBI last season for the Buffaloes. The 5-foot-8, 176-pounder boasted his elite bat-to-ball skills with 82 walks to only 42 strikeouts in 2022. He has led the NPB in on-base percentage in both of the last two seasons.

While he isn't considered a slugger, Yoshida does have some pop to go with his plate discipline and his ability to hit for contact. The left-handed hitter was a good bet for 20+ homers per season in Japan. While that doesn't always translate to MLB, it's an encouraging sign.

Yoshida isn't considered a plus defender, but he shouldn't be a liability as a corner outfielder in Boston. He's best suited as a left fielder, so the Red Sox starting outfield in 2023 could have Yoshida in left, Kiké Hernandez in center, and Alex Verdugo in right. 

The signing of Yoshida checks off another important item on the Red Sox to-do list as they needed to add outfield depth. Next, they could look to add starting pitching or another big bat while also retaining homegrown shortstop Xander Bogaerts.

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