Law: The Red Sox bet big on Masataka Yoshida; Cubs sign Jameson Taillon and more

The Red Sox, of course, made their first big preseason spending spree on outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who spent his career in Japan’s NPB, signing him to a five-year, $90 million contract, which is money they can spend. on Willson Contreras, who would have filled a bigger need. Yoshida didn’t make my top 50 free agent list, and even his power in Japan is unlikely to translate to MLB due to frequent injuries.

Yoshida’s most notable attribute is his elegant walk and strikeout numbers — he rarely strikes out, chokes on the barrel for hit balls, and he’s walked more than he’s hit in four straight years. , 2022 with 64 random walks and 42 hits. He hit .335/.447/.561 last season for the Oryx Buffaloes and .339/.429/.563 the year before, with 21 homers each in those two. year.

Of course, we’ve seen many of us come from NPB to majors and lose our country’s authority somewhere in the Pacific. Seiya Suzuki hit 38 homers for Hiroshima in 2021 and 14 for the Cubs last year. Kosuke Fukudome hit 31 and 34 in his two best seasons for Chunichi, then hit an MLB-high 37 homers … but it took him five seasons to do it. Yoshi Tsutsugo hit 44 and 38 homers in his two best years with NPB, then totaled 18 in 182 major league games. NPB parks are smaller and the raids are very different not only in terms of items but also in approach.

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The undersized Yoshida (5-foot-8, 176 pounds) has a very short, powerful swing that favors contact over strikes, almost like playing chili with infielders. Not only does this approach provide power, even extra power, but it can also leave hitters vulnerable to pitchers coming in with speed. Ichiro was legendary for swinging inside and making good contact almost anywhere he threw it, but we had a generation that tried to emulate him and no one could. He’s not a runner, probably limited to his left side. Boston’s entire investment hinges on Yoshida’s ability to get on base, which is also likely to take a hit, as pitchers won’t be hanging around a guy who doesn’t have the impact to hurt them with extra bases. Yoshida probably won’t land a lot of strikes here, which is worth some measure, but he’ll likely land more here. That leaves the Red Sox at a decent enough clip, probably in the .350-360 range, with a guy without power, speed or defensive value. He might be a regular for some teams, but as a contender, I think he’d be better suited as an extra — if I’m right, that’s not a good deal for Boston. Given the massive cap space behind them right now, and the fact that Willson Contreras signed for less than Boston spent on Yoshida (before the $15.4 million fee), I’m just skeptical.


• The Red Sox also agreed to terms with right-hander Kenley Jansen on a two-year, $32 million contract that is … fine. He’s not a Capital-C Closer type now, and that’s probably more money per year than he deserves, but it won’t be on the payroll, and he’d be better suited if they were a veteran closer. from a longer contract to a two-year contract. My guess is Jansen gives them about 110 innings and two wins worth of production over two years, barring some minor injuries here and there. I think Alex Cora will leave Jansen for the last three games and use one of the better help options in high-leverage spots before that.

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• Right now, the Cubs’ rotation is Marcus Stroman and a couple of fourth/fifth starters, so if they want to compete in 2023, they need to add one or maybe two more starting pitchers than Justin Steele/Adrian. Sampson group. They got one of them in Jason Taillon on Wednesday, signing the former Yankee and Pirate to a four-year, $68 million deal that would value him as a third/fourth starter and leave the team with room to move forward. watch his command improve. He’s a 4-and-a-half-year guy who has returned from his second Tommy John surgery with more strikeouts than ever, has become a groundball player, and is still homer-prone because his command inside the zone isn’t great. great He’s had a lot of injuries, including two surgeries and a bout with testicular cancer, but he’s been healthy for the past two years, and he’s only 31 this year. The Cubs pretty much gave him the contract I thought he deserved, which I see no value in, but I’m sure they see what I see – a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy who can be even better.

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• The Cubs also signed Cody Bellinger to a one-year, $17 million contract. Not sure what to make of Bellinger at this point. His pitch selection is terrible, his swing is the same as before, but looks worse when he’s swinging at the wrong pitch, and he gives the Cubs an elite defensive first baseman who can play in the outfield. I hope they can fix him.

• The Mets continued to add to their rotation by signing lefty Jose Quintana to a two-year deal, who rebounded significantly in 2022 after five years in the bullpen. Quintana used his changeup more often last year, which in turn made his four-seamer more effective, and he could get a whiff on his curveball and throw just about anything for a strikeout. I think his home run rate is expected to go back to average, but he’ll give the Mets league average or close to that innings in the fourth spot and take Taylor Megill out of the rotation. If Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer need an extra day, a swing role or an extra guy.

(File photo: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images)



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