Who is Masataka Yoshida? Japanese OF a free agent option for Red Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Among the several items on the Boston Red Sox' offseason to-do list is bolstering their outfield depth. Aaron Judge likely isn't walking through that door, but an intriguing name is set to join the 2022-23 MLB free-agent class.
Japanese star Masataka Yoshida will post on Wednesday, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. The 29-year-old will be eligible to sign with any major league team through Jan. 20.
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The Red Sox would be wise to consider Yoshida as an outfield upgrade. In 2022 with the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, Yoshida slashed .335/.447/.551 with 21 homers and 89 RBI. The 5-foot-8, 176-pounder made a name for himself with his elite bat-to-ball skills after leading the NPB in on-base percentage the last two seasons. He tallied 82 walks and struck out only 42 times this year.
While his power isn't otherworldly, Yoshida has the pop to go with his impressive plate discipline. The left-handed hitter has routinely hit at least 20 homers per season in Japan. Those numbers don't always translate to MLB, but they are encouraging.
Yoshida is best suited as a left fielder. Barring other offseason moves, the Red Sox could put him in left with Alex Verdugo in right and Kiké Hernández in center.
A handful of teams reportedly are already showing interest in Yoshida, including the Red Sox. Boston also was considered one of the "hottest pursuers" of Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki last year before the Chicago Cubs signed him to a five-year deal.
Along with Yoshida, the Red Sox appear to be in the mix for Japanese star pitcher Kodai Senga.