The Boston Red Sox have high hopes for Masataka Yoshida as the Japanese outfielder transitions to Major League Baseball in 2023.
Hence why they signed him to a five-year contract reportedly worth $90 million — in addition to paying about a $15 million posting fee — despite the inherent risk that comes with shelling out top dollar for an international free agent with zero MLB experience.
“He was a guy that Boston really wanted,” Yoshida’s agent, Scott Boras, recently told USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale. “There’s not a lot of swing and miss there, great vision, he’ll adapt really well to Major League Baseball. I think he’ll be a great asset to them, no question.”
It’s obviously difficult to predict how Yoshida will perform in the United States, but preseason Steamer projections are very high on the 29-year-old’s potential for the upcoming campaign. Rafael Devers is the only Red Sox player projected to have more wins above replacement (WAR), with Yoshida’s on-base prowess being a possible game-changing asset atop Boston’s lineup.
Yoshida might not possess light-tower power. And a Gold Glove Award might not be in his future. But his contact skills — combining a low strikeout rate with a high walk rate — were enough to catch the Red Sox’s attention and convince them they needed to act aggressively in free agency this offseason.