The Orix Buffaloes just won the Japan Series, becoming the champions of Nippon Professional Baseball’s 2022 season. Now, the Buffaloes may immediately face a major roster decision, as GM Junichi Fukura told The Japan Times last week that the team will speak with outfielder Masataka Yoshida about a possible posting for MLB teams. Yoshida is seeking a move to North America, telling reporters “I’ve always wanted to play at a high level.”
Over his seven seasons with the Buffaloes, Yoshida has become one of NPB’s top hitters, with a .327/.421/.539 slash line and 133 home runs in 3129 career plate appearances. His resume includes four NPB All-Star appearances, league batting titles in both 2020 and 2021, and four selections to the “Best Nine” roster for the Pacific League (like the AL and NL in the majors, NPB has the Pacific League and Central League). Yoshida was also the hero in Game 5 of the Japan Series, with a two-homer performance that included a three-run walkoff blast to give the Buffaloes a comeback win.
Yoshida turns 30 next July, so it would seem like he still has some more prime years to contribute as he makes the potential move to Major League Baseball. He would make an intriguing addition to this year’s free agent market, particularly for teams in need of left-handed hitting.
Because Yoshida hasn’t played enough to earn full free agency, the Buffaloes would have to agree to post the outfielder, and the NPB club would then receive a posting fee based on whatever Yoshida would earn in a Major League contract. Once posted, Yoshida and his representatives would have 30 days to negotiate with MLB teams, and he would return to the Buffaloes if no deal was reached with a North American club within that 30-day window. Yoshida would be eligible to be posted again next offseason, and following the 2024 season, he’d have enough service time to enter free agency without the limits of the posting system.