Red Sox Sign Japanese Batting champ Masataka Yoshida
The Boston Red Sox have signed outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and twice led Japan's Pacific League in batting, to a five year deal that will pay him $90 million.
Yoshida, 29, helped Orix to a victory in the Japan Series in October, homering twice in Game 5 - including a walk-off as the Buffaloes rallied from a ninth-inning deficit.
"He's someone that we like, we've spent a lot of time on," Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said at the winter meetings in San Diego before the deal was announced. "Really, really good hitter, 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."
Yoshida has a .326 average with a .419 on-base percentage in seven seasons in Japan, all with Orix.
Word of the signing first emerged at the same time that free agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts agreed to leave the Red Sox and join the San Diego Padres. Bogaerts had been the cornerstone of Boston's offseason plans.
Yoshida is Boston's biggest signing from Japan since the 2007 acquisition of pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was the focus of a bidding war. The Red Sox paid $51 million for the right to negotiate with him, then signed him to a deal worth about $52 million more.
To make room for Yoshida on the roster, Boston designated infielder Jeter Downs for assignment. Downs had been acquired in the trade that sent former AL MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers.