Yankees face stiff competition for Japanese star outfielder

Alexander Wilson
Masataka Yoshida, yankees
Aug 4, 2021; Yokohama, Japan; Team Japan outfielder Masataka Yoshida (34) hits a single against Korea in a baseball semifinal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

One of the New York Yankees‘ top options to fill the vacant left field spot is Japanese star, Masataka Yoshida. Former trade acquisition Andrew Benintendi is also a free agent, representing a suitable option, but Yoshida is a bit of an unknown coming out of the Japanese Pacific League.

At 29 years old, Yoshida is known for his elite on-base metrics. In fact, he has a higher walk rate than strike-out rate, which is almost inconceivable to consider. This past season with the Orix Buffaloes, Yoshida hit .335 with a 44.7% on-base rate, 21 homers, and 88 RBIs.

A lefty bat in left field is exactly what the Yankees are looking for, and with the shift banned for the 2023 season and beyond, Yoshida may be able to capitalize.

However, the Bombers will have stiff competition for the outfielder, with the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays expected to enter the sweepstakes.

The Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball are going to post outfielder Masataka Yoshida, according to a report from Yahoo Japan, making him eligible to explore opportunities with MLB clubs. (hat tip to JJ Cooper from Baseball America and Jason Coskrey on Twitter.) The Japanese-language link lists the Yankees, Mariners, and Blue Jays as those with interest.

Per MLB Trade Rumors.

The Yankees have a decent budget for the left field position:

If the Yankees are willing to spend $10+ million per season on Benintendi, they should 100% be considering Yoshida as well. While the former Kansas City Royal and the Yankee from this past season is a proven MLB commodity with postseason experience, Masataka is impeccable in his own right.

Striking him out is a difficult task, and given the Yankees’ heavy-hitting lineup, having a batter who can frustrate pitchers and get on base with patience might be the perfect variable to add to the equation. The question is, how much will he cost on the open market, and how many years for the Yankees have to dish out to acquire him?

Deciding to go with a player who’s never played in the MLB before is an obvious risk, but it might be one worth taking, given the dominance he showcased in a competitive league overseas.