Masataka Yoshida speaks during a press conference announcing his signing at Fenway Park on Thursday. Amanda Sabga/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald

BOSTON — Former Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka passed along some advice to Masataka Yoshida, another Japanese star who is making the move to Fenway Park.

“His advice to me: Boston is really cold,” the 29-year-old outfielder said through a translator on Thursday after he signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Red Sox. “Obviously, you have to bring your jacket.”

Yoshida won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and twice led Japan’s Pacific League in batting. He also helped Orix to a victory in the Japan Series in October, homering twice in Game 5 – including a walk-off as the Buffaloes rallied from a ninth-inning deficit.

“We became the champion champion in Japan,” he said. “Next season, I would like to contribute to your world championship for the Red Sox.”

Yoshida hit .326 with a .419 on-base percentage in seven seasons in Japan, all with Orix.

He greeted the Boston media on Thursday by explaining – in English – that he doesn’t speak English.


“So, nervous,” he said. “I want to learn English and I want to speak it my daughters. I am honored to be in Red Sox Nation. I will do my best. Thank you.”

Although the Red Sox have signed other Japanese players – including closer Koji Uehara, who helped them win it all in 2013 – Yoshida is Boston’s highest-profile addition from Japan since Matsuzaka arrived in 2007 after a bidding war that resulted in the team paying more than $100 million in posting fees and salary.

The Red Sox never let this one get to that, making an offer on the first day teams were allowed to talk to Yoshida’s agent, Scott Boras, and convincing him to cancel scheduled Zooms with other teams.

“You have to be prepared with the evaluation of the player when the light turns green,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. “We felt we were. We knew that there was going to be a lot of interest.”

Word of Yoshida’s signing first emerged at the winter meetings just before free agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts decided to leave the Red Sox and join the San Diego Padres. Bogaerts had been the cornerstone of Boston’s offseason plans.

To make room for Yoshida on the roster, Boston designated infielder Jeter Downs for assignment. Downs was acquired in the trade that sent former Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers but struggled in the minors and hit .154 in a 14-game major league tryout.


“I think that speaks to some of the struggles we’ve had getting him on track,” Bloom said. “I still think there’s a lot of physical ability there, but we haven’t been able to unlock it consistently.”

Bloom said there was no added disappointment in setting Downs free just because he was a key part of a decision – already unpopular – to trade Betts, the 2018 AL MVP.

“No doubt he’s a big part of a really significant trade, and that we haven’t gotten him to the level that we expected hurts,” Bloom said. “But at the end of the day, we we want to do right by all of the players. And he was the right decision (in) this case.”

Yoshida’s deal is the second-biggest contract Bloom has given out since taking over the Red Sox in October 2019, surpassed only by Trevor Story’s six-year, $140 million deal from March. Yoshida projects as either the starting left fielder or designated hitter. He’s an offense-first player who was the top Japanese position player available this winter.

In 2022, he hit .335 with 21 homers, 88 RBI and a 1.008 OPS in 119 games.

He’s a 5-foot-8, 176-pound left-handed hitter who might profile as a leadoff hitter. Perhaps most impressively, Yoshida has demonstrated elite plate discipline. Over the past three seasons in Japan, he has struck out just 97 times in 1,467 plate appearances. In 2022, he walked almost twice as much (80 times) as he struck out (41).


YANKEES: New York added Carlos Rodón to its rotation, agreeing to a $162 million, six-year contract with the left-hander, a person familiar with the negotiations said.

Rodón went 14-8 this year with a 2.88 ERA in his lone season with the San Francisco Giants, setting career highs for wins, starts (31), innings (178) and strikeouts (237). He also earned his second straight All-Star selection.

ORIOLES: Second baseman Adam Frazier agreed to an $8 million, one-year contract.

Frazier hit .238 with three home runs and 42 RBI in 156 games last season for the Seattle Mariners and stole a career-high 11 bases. He hit a career-best .305 for Pittsburgh and San Diego in 2021.

He played all three outfield positions and both middle infield spots in 2022, but he spent most of his time at second base.

TIGERS: Detroit bolstered its rotation by agreeing to a one-year contract with right-hander Michael Lorenzen, according to a person familiar with the situation.


Lorenzen will make $8.5 million and can earn $1.5 million in performance bonuses based on innings pitched, another person told The Associated Press.

Lorenzen, 30, was 8-6 with a 4.24 ERA in 18 starts last season with the Los Angeles Angels. Since making his major league debut with the Cincinnati Reds in 2015, he is 31-29 with a 4.10 ERA.

CUBS: Chicago added bullpen help, agreeing to a $2.8 million, one-year contract with veteran right-hander Brad Boxberger.

Boxberger, 34, was 4-3 with a 2.95 ERA and one save over 70 appearances and 64 innings with Milwaukee last season.

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