Red Sox sign Masataka Yoshida

Tokyo Sox

Baka Gaijin
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Hit-by-pitch translates as 'dead ball.'
Random language note but it's always interesting to see the gradual katakana-ization of Japanese. An HBP is typically written in a box score or an article in kanji, as 死球 (shi-kyuu) which still literally means dead ball. But in the above graphic they actually spelled it out in katakana -- デッドボール or deddo bo-ru. Not unheard of but it's the kind of thing my brother in law would probably have to explain to my father in law if they were watching that segment together.
 

DJnVa

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Masataka Yoshida Breaks 80-Year Red Sox Record After Red-Hot Start To His Career (msn.com)

Yoshida has been so impressive so far this season that he has joined historic Red Sox company. The rookie outfielder set a new Boston record for most times reaching base in his first 50 games with his club since the Live Ball Era began after doing so 87 times. Johnny Pesky previously held the record after reaching base 86 times in his first 50 games in 1942. Yoshida even reached base more times in his first 50 games than Hall of Famer Ted Williams who did so 82 times in his first 50 games in 1939.
 

nvalvo

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I’m glad you bumped this. I’m not sure people realize quite how well Yoshida is playing (well, hitting).

His 146 wRC+ is 16th among qualifying hitters, in a tight cluster with guys like Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Juan Soto, Paul Goldschmidt, and Wander Franco. He gives some value back on defense and base running, but he’s elite at the plate.

5th in BA, 10th in OBP, 24th in slugging. And all of this with a high-but-not-crazy .333 BABIP.

Like, Adam Jones called him the Japanese Juan Soto, and here he is, with a 146 wRC+ to Soto’s 145.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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It definitely seems like he’s been quietly incredible. Just very consistent. So you don’t really notice that he’s getting three hits every other game. He’s on pace for 20+ HR and 100+ RBI which should satisfy the most old school traditionalists. His performance reminds me of JD Drew’s best years in Boston.

(Edit: on pace based on 162 game average, so not exactly correct. But still…)
 
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koufax32

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His go/ao ratio is over 2.0. I wonder how much of that is a product of how he’s getting pitched and how much is a product of his approach. What would happen if that came down a bit? Maybe it does when he’s playing in hotter weather?
 

BaseballJones

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Yoshida: 15 2b, 7 hr, 33 rbi, .319/.393/.502/.896, 142 ops+

"On pace for": 40 2b, 19 hr, 88 rbi, 3.5 bWAR (4.2 oWAR)

Pretty solid.
 

BigSoxFan

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Yoshida: 15 2b, 7 hr, 33 rbi, .319/.393/.502/.896, 142 ops+

"On pace for": 40 2b, 19 hr, 88 rbi, 3.5 bWAR (4.2 oWAR)

Pretty solid.
Has been the real deal outside of a few tough weeks. Very pleased with this signing. A definite “win” for Chaim.
 

chrisfont9

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Signing players from Japan continues to be one of the only ways for teams to realistically spend their way upward -- not foolproof, but compared to the alternatives:
* draft and international market -- level playing field at best, ultracompetitive
* MLB free agent market -- top talent commanding massive salaries, bargains hard to come by.
Each team has its own advantages and disadvantages here, but the Sox are no more than middlingly competitive in pursuing these guys and having them contribute. Japan is another story.

Japanese players tend to be major league ready contributors signing for relatively low dollars based on their production. Right now there are eight active Japanese players.
* Ohtani -- say no more
* Yu Darvish -- has been paid $157m for 31 bWAR -- about $5m per, and in 11 seasons he's had Cy Young votes or an All Star berth in 8 of them.
* Kenta Maeda -- above-replacement pitcher, nothing special, but making just over $3m per every year
* Yusei Kikuchi -- a bust, at this point. Has made between $10-17m per season.
* Seiya Suzuki -- 116 OPS+ for $18-21 per year. Meh.
* Shintaro Fujinari -- Not good, but was just a flier at $3.25m
* Kodai Senga -- Signed for 5/$75, 0.7 bWAR in 11 games. Seems pretty good based on underlying numbers, except for the walks.
* Masataka Yoshida -- $15-18m per for 5 seasons, currently grossly overperforming that deal.

For the Sox, they missed on Tomo Ohka and Matsuzaka only gave them two good-great seasons, which was disappointing -- but his max salary was $10m, so even there the value was fine. Their other signings were Okajima, Tazawa and Sawamura, who all contributed and made no more than $1.5m in a season. [Not counting other Japanese players they signed from other MLB teams, although I will note that I have a beloved dog named Koji, pictured in my avatar.]

For whatever reason (relationships? early investment?) the Sox appear better poised than most teams to bring over Japanese players. If nothing else, a guy like Yoshida is not listening to all 30 teams. The coastal teams and big city franchises usually have an advantage. Maybe the next wave of talented kids from Japan will be open to signing with the Marlins or Guardians or Brewers or whoever, but for the Sox, who can't just count on American players being interested in Boston and aren't developing the kids at any particularly exciting rate, this is a unique advantage they should keep pressing.
 
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BigSoxFan

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Signing players from Japan continues to be one of the only ways for teams to realistically spend their way upward -- not foolproof, but compared to the alternatives:
* draft and international market -- level playing field at best, ultracompetitive
* MLB free agent market -- top talent commanding massive salaries, bargains hard to come by.
Each team has its own advantages and disadvantages here, but the Sox are no more than middlingly competitive in pursuing these guys and having them contribute. Japan is another story.

Japanese players tend to be major league ready contributors signing for relatively low dollars based on their production. Right now there are eight active Japanese players.
* Ohtani -- say no more
* Yu Darvish -- has been paid $157m for 31 bWAR -- about $5m per, and in 11 seasons he's had Cy Young votes or an All Star berth in 8 of them.
* Kenta Maeda -- above-replacement pitcher, nothing special, but making just over $3m per every year
* Yusei Kikuchi -- a bust, at this point. Has made between $10-17m per season.
* Seiya Suzuki -- 116 OPS+ for $18-21 per year. Meh.
* Shintaro Fujinari -- Not good, but was just a flier at $3.25m
* Kodai Senga -- Signed for 5/$75, 0.7 bWAR in 11 games. Seems pretty good based on underlying numbers, except for the walks.
* Masataka Yoshida -- $15-18m per for 5 seasons, currently grossly overperforming that deal.

For whatever reason (relationships? early investment?) the Sox appear better poised than most teams to bring over Japanese players. If nothing else, a guy like Yoshida is not listening to all 30 teams. The coastal teams and big city franchises usually have an advantage. Maybe the next wave of talented kids from Japan will be open to signing with the Marlins or Guardians or Brewers or whoever, but for the Sox, who can't just count on American players being interested in Boston and aren't developing the kids at any particularly exciting rate, this is a unique advantage they should keep pressing.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto fits this team’s needs like a glove, if he gets posted after this season, as has been rumored. I want the Sox to go after every top Japanese FA and would love an under-the-radar Okajima type every year too.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Yoshinobu Yamamoto fits this team’s needs like a glove, if he gets posted after this season, as has been rumored. I want the Sox to go after every top Japanese FA and would love an under-the-radar Okajima type every year too.
Agreed but if Yoshida continues there’ll likely be a much higher price tag suddenly with all teams looking for and overvaluing the next guy.
I always thought after the stretch of Cuban players success earlier in the 2010’s, it led Cherington to make a terrible signing.
Not saying this is comparable since the NPB looks superior now to Cuban baseball. Just expecting marginally good players to get offered more than Yoshida if his success continues
 

BigSoxFan

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Agreed but if Yoshida continues there’ll likely be a much higher price tag suddenly with all teams looking for and overvaluing the next guy.
I always thought after the stretch of Cuban players success earlier in the 2010’s, it led Cherington to make a terrible signing.
Not saying this is comparable since the NPB looks superior now to Cuban baseball. Just expecting marginally good players to get offered more than Yoshida if his success continues
True, but once you go north of $90-100M, many will drop off anyways.
 

nvalvo

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Agreed but if Yoshida continues there’ll likely be a much higher price tag suddenly with all teams looking for and overvaluing the next guy.
I always thought after the stretch of Cuban players success earlier in the 2010’s, it led Cherington to make a terrible signing.
Not saying this is comparable since the NPB looks superior now to Cuban baseball. Just expecting marginally good players to get offered more than Yoshida if his success continues
Okay, but think this through. There’s a kind of “nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded” logic operating.

Is Yoshida’s two-week hiccup followed by sustained success (A) a sign that the NPB level of play is close to MLB, and thus star Japanese players are likely to support high salaries in MLB, or (B) a sign that the next star Japanese player to come over will be overvalued because, I guess, teams will bid more for him? What matters is the proximity of the competitive level in NPB to MLB, and it sure looks like they might be pretty close these days.

There is a subtle disanalogy between Cuba and Japan, in which the Cuban players, long cooped up by geopolitics, were suddenly allowed to emigrate legally. The best players went first, perhaps leading to something of a diminishing returns dynamic. Cespedes and Abreu play great on modest contracts, so there’s no way to know the slope of the drop off from Cespedes to the nth emigre who is the last MLB-caliber Cuban presently playing. That allows the n+1th player to be radically overvalued.

There are just too few datapoints to get a real read on the quality of competition, and it can easily get skewed by a few standouts — who are very likely to be the first datapoints we have. There are also no ex-MLBers playing in the SN.

But NPB is a different story. There are decades worth of league switchers *in both directions,* and there isn’t a sudden exogenous event skewing the composition of the sample of players. We have superstars and role players, starters and middle relievers.

This isn’t to say that all Japanese FA signings will work out. Hell, a decent number of intra-MLB FA signings are disasters. But I don’t think the conditions are ripe for the bubble dynamic you’re fearing. The failures will tend to be more like Seiya Suzuki; a good player, sure, but, like, Alex Verdugo with a few more strikeouts and worse defense. He’s fine, and maybe there’s more in there, but the Cubs paid retail.

(Verdugo would sign that deal, right? 5/$85?)
 

Tokyo Sox

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Agreed but if Yoshida continues there’ll likely be a much higher price tag suddenly with all teams looking for and overvaluing the next guy.
I always thought after the stretch of Cuban players success earlier in the 2010’s, it led Cherington to make a terrible signing.
Not saying this is comparable since the NPB looks superior now to Cuban baseball. Just expecting marginally good players to get offered more than Yoshida if his success continues
True, but once you go north of $90-100M, many will drop off anyways.
This isn’t to say that all Japanese FA signings will work out. Hell, a decent number of intra-MLB FA signings are disasters. But I don’t think the conditions are ripe for the bubble dynamic you’re fearing.
Agree with BSF & nvalvo here. Keep in mind that everyone thought the Sox massively overvalued Yoshida. So maybe teams will just more accurately value the next player? But I'm not worried about some kind of a bubble or epidemic of over-valuation, any Mets insanity notwithstanding.

That said, while I hope the Sox do aggressively pursue Yamamoto next year, people should be prepared for the fact that he was always going to cost a lot more than Yoshida. He'll only be 25 in August and is better than Senga. I'd be ecstatic if the Sox get him for something like 6/120 but I think that's the bottom end of his likely range.
 

BigSoxFan

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Agree with BSF & nvalvo here. Keep in mind that everyone thought the Sox massively overvalued Yoshida. So maybe teams will just more accurately value the next player? But I'm not worried about some kind of a bubble or epidemic of over-valuation, any Mets insanity notwithstanding.

That said, while I hope the Sox do aggressively pursue Yamamoto next year, people should be prepared for the fact that he was always going to cost a lot more than Yoshida. He'll only be 25 in August and is better than Senga. I'd be ecstatic if the Sox get him for something like 6/120 but I think that's the bottom end of his likely range.
Murakami’s 2023 season stats appear to be a reflection of his WBC experience. What’s going on with him?
 

Tokyo Sox

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Murakami’s 2023 season stats appear to be a reflection of his WBC experience. What’s going on with him?
Oh man it's been tough to watch. He's been marginally better in May/June than he was in April but basically he's been struggling since he hit #55 last season in mid-September. When he hit it, he was still on pace for 60+ but started pressing so hard he didn't hit #56 until his final AB of the regular season. Then he spent most of the playoffs, spring, and WBC not hitting. So to answer your question, I have no idea. But it's killing me.
 

scottyno

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I wanted to buy a yoshida player tshirt, but they seem to be sold out everywhere (Also $40 which is kind of crazy). Not sure if that's a sign of supply issues with everything, or not making enough, or Boston catching Yoshida fever, but everyone in Boston has to be thrilled with his overall production so far.
 

Hee Sox Choi

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Does anyone else feel like there’s more in the tank for Masa? I do. He‘s still hitting too many GBs and he’s playing in stadiums with hitting backgrounds that he’s never seen before. Once he has seen these Ps, played in all the parks and has his favorite restaurants lined up, I feel like he is going to be even a better hitter. Just Imagine when he gets settled in and gets more comfortable.
 

streeter88

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Oh man it's been tough to watch. He's been marginally better in May/June than he was in April but basically he's been struggling since he hit #55 last season in mid-September. When he hit it, he was still on pace for 60+ but started pressing so hard he didn't hit #56 until his final AB of the regular season. Then he spent most of the playoffs, spring, and WBC not hitting. So to answer your question, I have no idea. But it's killing me.
Talking about Murakami here, right? I read that he's only 22-23, but will he be seeking the MLB payday? What the conventional wisdom?
 

Tokyo Sox

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Talking about Murakami here, right? I read that he's only 22-23, but will he be seeking the MLB payday? What the conventional wisdom?
Maybe better for the NPB thread but yes, he just turned 23 this year. At the end of last season he signed a new 3y deal and the expectation was that he'll try to head to MLB after that, as a 26yo for the 2026 season. My personal expectation was that if he built on his absurd 2022 campaign he might ask to be posted a year before that and go in 2025. Assuming he manages to regain some semblance of 2021-22 form that's still possible, but there are a lot of question marks right now. Generally speaking I think we should assume he'll try to go to MLB eventually though.
 

nvalvo

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I wanted to buy a yoshida player tshirt, but they seem to be sold out everywhere (Also $40 which is kind of crazy). Not sure if that's a sign of supply issues with everything, or not making enough, or Boston catching Yoshida fever, but everyone in Boston has to be thrilled with his overall production so far.
I just eBayed my first baseball card in maybe 30 years to decorate my workspace at a new job: it’s a dope Calbee OBP LEADER card of Yoshida swinging sweetly in the Buffaloes’ white and blue.

Just 200 yen!
 

Yo La Tengo

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What is up with Yoshida sitting 2 of the last 3 games? Lefty starters, but, he's been fine against lefties: .258/.387/.355/.742.

Is Turner no longer an option at 1B? I'd rather have Yoshida in the line-up than Casas.
 

dhappy42

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What is up with Yoshida sitting 2 of the last 3 games? Lefty starters, but, he's been fine against lefties: .258/.387/.355/.742.

Is Turner no longer an option at 1B? I'd rather have Yoshida in the line-up than Casas.
Devers is sitting tonight too. Weird, especially after his 2 HRs last night.
 

greek_gawd_of_walks

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What is up with Yoshida sitting 2 of the last 3 games? Lefty starters, but, he's been fine against lefties: .258/.387/.355/.742.

Is Turner no longer an option at 1B? I'd rather have Yoshida in the line-up than Casas.
During the EEI transmission last night, Castiglione mentioned something that Masa's people made it known that he has bouts of fatigue and can get worn down over the course of the season (like any other guy? Maybe it's more noticeable in him than in other players). I can't recall who Yoshida's people said this to (I'm guessing cora, and Cora said something offhand to someone, but maybe it was said directly to Castiglione-- I'm not remembering at this moment). With the potential day off tomorrow-- weather permitting-- the plan has to be to get him an extended, three out of four days off, I'm guessing.
 

JM3

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8 is a lot. MLB record is 13. I believe Youk is the last Red Sox player of any platedness to get that many in '07 (9).