Red Sox

Red Sox’ signing of Masataka Yoshida panned by execs, scouts, and experts

"I have no words."

Masataka Yoshida's bat and vision at the plate have been praised, but several experts wonder if that alone was worth the price for the Red Sox. AP Photo/Matt Slocum

When the Red Sox opted not to re-sign Xander Bogaerts, some fans took solace in some of the other moves they’ve made so far this offseason.

They’ve bolstered their bullpen by signing three arms, with Kenley Jansen being the most notable, and they spent a total of $105 million to acquire Japanese outfielder Masataka Yoshida.

The signing of Yoshida was believed to help the Red Sox outfield hitting situation, which was one of the worst in baseball last season. However, just like the Red Sox’ handling of the Bogaerts situation, the five-year, $90 million contract they gave Yoshida was panned throughout the baseball world and has left many confused.


ESPN MLB insider Kiley McDaniel wrote that he didn’t have Yoshida in his top 50 available free agents this offseason. McDaniel polled 10 executives and scouts around the league to see if they viewed Yoshida the same way he did and they all came to the same conclusion: the Red Sox overpaid for Yoshida.

One of those sources texted McDaniel that their ballclub “thought he was worth less than half of what they paid” and another texted him, “I have no words.”

The Athletic’s Keith Law also panned the signing as he didn’t have Yoshida in his top 50 available free agents at the start of free agency, either.

Yoshida’s eye for the strike zone has been commonly praised as his best trait. He walked 82 times and struck out just 42 times in 2022 with the Orix Buffaloes of Nippon Professional Baseball, hitting .335/.447/.561. Despite Yoshida hitting 21 home runs in each of the last two seasons though, Law thinks that his power won’t translate well over to the majors, citing past power struggles other hitters from Japan had. As he projects Yoshida’s power to take a dip and his scouting report not really showing much praise in any other area outside of his ability to draw walks, Law believes the Red Sox should’ve used the money they gave to a player with a lower ceiling to a different position of need.


“He might be a regular [outfielder] on some teams, but I think for a contender, he might fit more as an extra outfielder — and if I’m right, this is not a good deal for Boston,” Law wrote. “Given the massive void they have behind the plate right now, and the fact that Wilson Contreras just signed for less than Boston spent just on Yoshida (before the $15.4 million posting fee), I’m just confused.”

Contreras would’ve fit Boston’s need for a catcher. However, as Law mentioned, the top catcher available in free agency agreed to a five-year, $87.5 million contract with the Cardinals on Wednesday. Contreras was a three-time All-Star over his seven seasons with the Cubs and at 30, he’s only a year older than Yoshida.

There have been some positives though in the reviews of Yoshida. One of the executives that McDaniel reached out to texted him that “Our evals think he can really hit … a little rich but not totally out of bounds if you’re REALLY buying into the bat.” That led McDaniel to mention that “there’s chatter from informed sources that Boston is convinced that Yoshida’s bat is potentially special, and a couple sources thought there was interest in the general area of what Boston paid from at least one other club.”


It’s hard to deny that Yoshida’s bat was good while he was in Japan. Over his seven seasons with Orix, he only had one with a batting average below .300 and hit .326/.419/.538 during that time.

Former MLB outfielder Adam Jones also had praise for Yoshida, who he played with for a season with the Buffaloes. Jones told The Athletic’s Will Sammon in November that Yoshida is “ready” for MLB and compared him to one of the game’s top hitters.

“I say he’s like the Japanese Juan Soto,” Jones said. “He can hit the ball to all fields, all speeds. Like Juan Soto, he hits everything — and walks; and doesn’t swing outside of the zone.”

Still though, the Red Sox appear to have paid a hefty price to a player that might not have commanded it as they’re looking to fill many holes. Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said prior to the winter meetings that he hoped to sign a starter, another reliever, and three or four position players.

They’ve signed a reliever (Jansen) and a position player (Yoshida) since then but still have holes at catcher and now shortstop following Bogaerts’s departure. They also reportedly showed interest in Jose Abreu before he signed with the Astros, suggesting they’re in the market for another power-hitting right-handed hitter or a first baseman (or both).


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