What's that? The Yankees' lineup is in need of a left-handed bat who blends power and patience, and can preferably play left field? Is defense important? It would be nice, but it's not a must, considering their current left field options are a first baseman and a utility infielder? Great, got it. Well, in that case, it probably would've been wise to dole out a "massive overpay" for Masataka Yoshida this winter.
That's what "rival execs" called the contract when the Red Sox pulled it off and they didn't. Of course that's what they said. We're in a weird space where no one seems to be able to just say, "Boston paid money to acquire a very good player." Even fans have to couch signings by weighing the financial implications these days?
Bottom line? Boston took a little bit of a risk assigning $18 million per year to someone who hadn't proven himself at the MLB level, but they were confident and scouted the player properly. He came over with years of professional experience and did exactly what they thought he would. Who cares about calculating the dollars per WAR to make absolutely certain they didn't overpay by $1.2 million to get their foot in the door? They had money. They blew the other offers out of the water to secure their guy. They spent it on a great hitter at a position the Yankees left empty. End of discussion.
I wasn't in the room. I didn't know. I was perplexed, then exasperated when projections for Yoshida's season began to drop that didn't match the contract-based outraged that followed his early Dec. deal. Turns out the people paid to make projections saw this coming. So did the Red Sox. The Yankees didn't, or didn't want to take a financial gamble to add offense, willingly deluding themselves into the idea that it wasn't an area of need.
All I know is I would pay the full $90 million just to watch someone on the Yankees do something like this even once.
Yankees blew it by not signing Masataka Yoshida. Letting him go to Red Sox makes it even worse.
You know what? Maybe Yoshida wasn't a fit on this team, actually. Would've fit in great on the "Pride, Power (and Patience), Pinstripes" teams of the early-to-mid-2000s, but this current group that's instructed to hit strikes hard and make quick swing decisions that allow a seemingly endless list of starting pitchers to go seven innings against them (19 now in 2023, Bello twice)? Not so much.
Will Yoshida further improve as he acclimates to the majors? He's already 29 years old. This may be his peak, especially as pitchers push back. Counterpoint: Who cares? This peak is pretty great? He possesses tangible skills that won't recede for years. Keen eye. Power when he waits for his pitch. Mastery of the strike zone. Ability to spoil. He's not 23, but he's not Josh Donaldson. For an offense-starved team, this was an obvious pickup (and, again, at a position they chose not to fill with anybody instead).
The Red Sox knew exactly what they were getting. That's why they paid for it, at a price that won't break the bank, unless you're constantly crying about how the bank is mean to you like most modern MLB owners. "I've done one thing! Isn't that enough things?"
The Yankees spend money, but on all the wrong pieces. The Red Sox don't spend that much anymore, but adding Yoshida proves that when they do spend and actually overextend themselves, they're doing it because they're that certain about what they're about to receive. They don't act as bloated weigh stations to bring in someone else's Donaldsons. They up the bidding by $20 or $30 million to add talent.
Yoshida is hitting .308 with a .379 OBP so far. His OPS+ is 133. His OPS is .867. He's got enough speed. He's got enough pop. He isn't a generational megastar who will pop eyes with 110 MPH exit velocity. He's a very, very, very good hitter who's got a cupboard full of "little things" and can help a team win. He'll battle. He'll frustrate you. He's exactly what the Yankees are missing, and have been missing since DJ LeMahieu's 2019 season.
He's also "worth less than half" his current contract, according to one MLB executive before the season even began. Any bets on who that executive was, and whether his name rhymes with Sal Pinebrenner?
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