Red Sox agree to five-year contract with outfielder Masataka Yoshida
BOSTON, MA—The Boston Red Sox today signed outfielder Masataka Yoshida to a five-year contract through the 2027 season. To make room for Yoshida on the 40-man roster, Boston designated infielder Jeter Downs for assignment.
Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom made the announcement.
Yoshida, 29, played in 762 games over seven seasons (2016-22) with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, batting .327 (884-for-2,703) with a .421 on-base percentage, .539 slugging percentage, 161 doubles, 133 home runs, and 467 RBI. A four-time NPB All-Star (2018-19, ’21-22) and two-time Pacific League batting champion (2020-21), he led the league in OPS in both 2021 (.992) and 2022 (1.008). Yoshida earned a Gold Medal with Japan at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and helped lead Orix to the 2022 Japan Series title.
A left-handed hitter, Yoshida recorded more walks than strikeouts in each of the last four seasons, drawing 289 walks against only 160 strikeouts during that time. In each of the last five seasons, he hit at least .300 with an on-base percentage above .400 and a slugging percentage above .500. In 119 games last season, he batted .335 (138-for-412) with 21 home runs and 88 RBI. In the 2022 Japan Series, Yoshida hit a walk-off home run in Game 5, helping lead Orix to its first championship in 26 years.
A native of Fukui, Japan, Yoshida would become the 10th individual born in Japan to play for the Red Sox, joining outfielder Dave Roberts (2004) and pitchers Tomo Ohka (1999-2001), Hideo Nomo (2001), Daisuke Matsuzaka (2007-12), Hideki Okajima (2007-11), Takashi Saito (2009), Junichi Tazawa (2009, ’11-16), Koji Uehara (2013-16), and Hirokazu Sawamura (2021-22).
Downs, 24, made his Major League debut in 2022, playing in 14 games and batting .154 (6-for-39) with one home run. Originally selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft, he was acquired by the Red Sox from the Los Angeles Dodgers in February 2020.
BOSTON RED SOX 40-MAN ROSTER (40)
Pitchers (23): Matt Barnes, Brayan Bello, Ryan Brasier, Kutter Crawford, Franklin German, Darwinzon Hernandez, Tanner Houck, Kenley Jansen, Zack Kelly, Chris Martin, Bryan Mata, Chris Murphy, Kaleb Ort, James Paxton, Nick Pivetta, Joely Rodríguez, Chris Sale, John Schreiber, Connor Seabold, Josh Taylor, Brandon Walter, Garrett Whitlock, Josh Winckowski
Catchers (2): Reese McGuire, Connor Wong
Infielders (6): Triston Casas, Bobby Dalbec, Rafael Devers, David Hamilton, Eric Hosmer, Trevor Story
Outfielders (5): Wilyer Abreu, Jarren Duran, Rob Refsnyder, Alex Verdugo, Masataka Yoshida
Infielder/Outfielders (4): Christian Arroyo, Kiké Hernández, Ceddanne Rafaela, Enmanuel Valdez