The San Diego Padres have shown they are willing to write a big enough check to cover any number of holes on the roster. If A.J. Preller wants to focus on one area in the next few months, the outfield could be of particular interest, given the state of the roster.
While Juan Soto is going to be in right field for a long time, Trent Grisham is likely returning due to a dearth of quality replacement options and de facto left fielder Jurickson Profar could test the free agent market. A big splash, perhaps one from Japan, could be needed.
Orix Buffaloes outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who might be the best outfielder in the NPB, has stated that he wants to make the move to America and be posted. Former Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has confirmed that Yoshida will be a “stud” in MLB.
While Yoshida has asked to be posted this offseason, the Phillies are considered his preference. Bryce Harper is his favorite player, as he chose to wear No. 34 in the past to honor him. With Philly likely in a spending move to make sure they can return to the World Series, San Diego needs to come out aggressively if they want to get him.
Will the San Diego Padres sign Masataka Yoshida?
Yoshida has hit 90 home runs in the last four years while hitting at least .321 in each of those seasons and topping out at .351. Yoshida is getting on base at a .421 clip, all while playing solid defense and winning Pacific League championships in consecutive seasons.
Yoshida, who won the 2021 NPB Home Run Derby, has been an All-Star in each of the last four seasons while taking home two batting titles. Someone who makes contact that frequently should be able to become an extra base menace if they can take advantage of a spacious San Diego outfield.
It’s a little fair to wonder if his power numbers will translate to MLB pitching, especially if he goes to a park like Petco. If nothing else, the Padres will get a guy who could hit .300 every year, get on base, and play solid defense. The allure of Harper will be tough to ignore, however.
Even though he struggled with injuries, the solid performance of Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki should made San Diego very optimistic about what Yoshida can do in his first season. The Padres will need to spend big, but that likely will not be an issue for Preller.