If the Red Sox bounce back and return to the Major League Baseball playoffs in 2023, their marquee offseason addition might be a big reason why.
Boston addressed a variety of needs with the signing of Masataka Yoshida, a Japanese outfielder who’s about to make his first foray into the United States as a big leaguer. Yoshida carries a highly impactful bat and his penchant for getting on base figures to be a godsend for Boston’s offense.
Yoshida is a polished player, one who should stand out among his fellow MLB rookies this season. That’s probably why ESPN’s Jeff Passan felt comfortable tabbing Boston’s new left fielder as the player on who the Red Sox’s 2023 campaign hinges.
“The 29-year-old Yoshida signed with the Red Sox for $90 million this winter — far more than other teams anticipated him receiving — and will be thrust into the middle of Boston’s lineup after a tremendous seven-year career with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball,” Passan wrote. “He takes walks. He doesn’t strike out. He hits for power. Everything is there for him to succeed, and if he does, the Red Sox are in a far better position to sneak into a playoff spot.”
The Red Sox haven’t seen much from Yoshida in Fort Myers, Fla., the past month, but he dazzled for the championship-winning Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic. If the last few weeks were any indication, Boston has a legitimate game-changer on its hands.