The Boston Red Sox addressed their lack of outfield depth by signing Japanese star Masataka Yoshida to a five-year contract on Wednesday. While the move makes sense on paper, it reportedly left several MLB evaluators scratching their heads.
Yoshida's contract is worth more than $90 million. On top of that hefty price tag, the Red Sox will pay a $15.4 million posting fee for the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball league, bringing the total to approximately $105.4 million.
Boston signed Yoshida for the elite bat-to-ball skills he showed in Japan. The 29-year-old had 80 walks to 40 strikeouts during the 2022 season. He led the NPB in on-base percentage in 2021 and 2022.
Despite those impressive numbers, ESPN's Kiley McDaniel reports MLB evaluators are skeptical of Yoshida living up to his contract. Here's an interesting excerpt from McDaniel's column on the Red Sox' acquisition.
I sent texts around to a number of scouts and execs explaining what I thought his tools were (high contact, very good approach, average-ish power, limited defensive ability) and asking what I was missing between that scouting report and what the Red Sox paid.
"Nothing," replied one international scouting director. "Overpay for me ... too rich imo," from another scouting director. A third exec: "I have no idea." A fourth: "Nothing ... I wish they and him luck." A fifth: "We thought he was worth less than half of what they paid." A sixth added, "I have no words."
In total, I spoke to ten sources in the aftermath of the signing and they all had a similar breakdown. They all had some level of appreciation for the player, but thought the Red Sox overpaid by a hefty margin.
Not exactly rave reviews.
It had been unusual for chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom to spend big on a free agent. Before this offseason, infielder Trevor Story was his only blockbuster signing. The rest of his moves were inexpensive one or two-year contracts. That makes this lucrative deal for an enigmatic player from Japan even more confusing.
Although the Red Sox may have overpaid for Yoshida's services, he projects as a solid leadoff hitter for a team that desperately needed one. He also fills a significant void in the outfield. The question is whether that $105.4 million would have been better allocated elsewhere.