New Boston Red Sox Star Masataka Yoshida Looking To Make Impact In MLB After Stellar World Baseball Classic -- Mar 16

Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Chaim Bloom made two notable moves this offseason following a disappointing last-place finish in the AL East division.

The big one was the lucrative contract extension handed out to franchise star and face Rafael Devers. The stalwart third baseman agreed to an 11-year deal worth $331 million, ensuring that he stays in Beantown for at least the remainder of his prime years.

Bloom’s other big move? Signing Japanese star Masataka Yoshida to a five-year, $90 million contract roster. Yoshida was far-and-away Boston’s biggest offseason addition, and his incredible performance at the World Baseball Classic thus far should have the Red Sox fans highly optimistic about what’s to come.

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The Red Sox will open their 2023 season with a home game against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on Mar. 30 (2:10 p.m. EST). Their three-game series will conclude on Apr. 2, and then Boston will begin a three-game home series with the Pittsburgh Pirates the following day.

Yoshida Has Turned Heads AT 2023 WBC

Japan finished with a perfect 4-0 record in the round-robin, picking up victories against Australia, Korea, Czech Republic and China. Incredibly, Japan allowed just eight total runs in those four games.

Yoshida, of course, was a huge reason for Japan’s dominance in round-robin play.

Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani has been earning most of the attention, but make no mistake: This is a deep and powerful lineup from top to bottom that has Japan in contention to win it all again.

In round-robin play, Yoshida batted .417 with five hits and eight RBI to go along with an OPS of 1.026. Needless to say, Yoshida’s bat has Japan in excellent position to win their third World Baseball Classic; they also won it all in 2006 and 2009.

Yoshida Will Bring Much-Needed Offense To Boston

The Red Sox usually field one of baseball’s best lineups, but replacing the offense and leadership of fan favorites like Xander Bogaerts (signed with the San Diego Padres) and J.D. Martinez (signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers) is easier said than done.

Bogaerts and Martinez were instrumental in Boston’s 2018 World Series championship season. Bogaerts constantly flirted with a .300 batting average, and a healthy Martinez could threaten for 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBI.

Keeping Devers was an absolute must for the Red Sox. But there’s good reason for Boston fans to think that Yoshida will also help replace some of the offense that both Bogaerts and Martinez leave behind.

Yoshida starred for the Orix Buffaloes from 2016 to 2022, winning two Pacific League batting championships (2020 and 2021) while also earning four NPB All-Star selections. Yoshida and the Buffaloes climbed to the mountaintop by winning the 2022 Japan Series.

The 5-foot-8 Yoshida batted .327 with 133 homers and 467 RBI over his seven seasons in Japan. His versatility, ability to get on base combined with solid power will make him a grand addition to Boston’s lineup — especially at the hitter-friendly venue of Fenway Park.

The Red Sox have taken noticeable steps back since winning the World Series in 2018, making the playoffs only once while suffering two losing seasons. They made a surprise run to the ALCS in 2021, falling to the Houston Astros in six games.

Boston has it tough in the AL East, a division that produced three playoff teams in 2022 (the New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays) as well as a Baltimore Orioles club that won 83 games.

But this is the second season of MLB’s expanded postseason format that features three division winners and a trio of wild card teams. The Red Sox have found ways to exceed expectations with manager Alex Cora, and it’s not wise to bet against them at any given time.

If Yoshida comes as advertised, the Red Sox should once again field one of baseball’s most potent lineups. This group used a powerful offense to make up for a shaky pitching staff in 2021, and it got them within two games of the World Series.

Even if the Sox aren’t a playoff team in 2023, Yoshida gives the fans plenty to be excited about in the short-term and the long-term.