Red Sox sign Japanese OF Yoshida to 5-year deal

December 15th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- The Red Sox completed a productive final day of the Winter Meetings by making an international splash, acquiring the corner-outfield bat they needed in Masataka Yoshida. They made the five-year deal official on Thursday.

A source told’s Mark Feinsand that the contract is expected to be worth $90 million, though the club did not confirm the value.

Earlier in the day, the Sox came to terms with veteran free-agent closer Kenley Jansen on a two-year, $32 million contract.

But the day closed on a downer, as Boston's quest to re-sign star shortstop ended with him agreeing to an 11-year mega-deal with the Padres, a source told Feinsand.

The news of Yoshida’s signing was surprisingly sudden, given that the Orix Buffaloes had just posted the 29-year-old on Wednesday morning.

The Red Sox will have to pay a $15.375 million posting fee to the Buffaloes based on the $90 million contract for Yoshida. The posting fee does not count towards Boston's Competitive Balance Tax payroll.

“He’s someone that we like, we’ve spent a lot of time on,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said of Yoshida less than an hour before reports broke that the outfielder was Boston-bound. “Really, really good hitter, [gives a] quality at-bat and a great talent. I think first and foremost, when you look at a player like him, the quality of the at-bat stands out.”

In Yoshida, the Red Sox have a potential on-base machine who could move into the leadoff spot for manager Alex Cora. They are likely to go with an outfield alignment of Yoshida in left, in center and in right.

Throughout Yoshida’s career in Japan, he has dominated the strike zone. Last season, he walked 80 times with just 41 strikeouts, posting a .447 on-base percentage.

In his seven seasons for Orix of Nippon Professional Baseball, Yoshida batted .327/.421/.539 with 161 doubles, seven triples, 133 homers and 467 RBIs. He belted 21 homers last season and had a career high of 29 in 2019.

Last season, Yoshida led the Buffaloes to their first Japan Series title in 26 years, thanks in part to a walk-off home run that went viral around the baseball-loving world.

Because Yoshida has yet to accrue the necessary service time to become an international free agent, his only avenue to join Major League Baseball was via the posting process. Based on his age and professional experience, Yoshida will not be subject to international spending limitations.

Yoshida is one of two Japanese stars expected to move to MLB this offseason. Right-handed starter Kodai Senga is an international free agent after making three All-Star teams with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks over the past decade. The Red Sox have also been linked to Senga, and Bloom has been on record several times saying the club is trying to acquire another starting pitcher.