12:55pm: The posting window has actually been changed from 30 days to 45 days, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. Feinsand adds that Yoshida’s window will officially open tomorrow at 8am Eastern and go until 5pm on January 20th.
12:20pm: The Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have officially posted outfielder Masataka Yoshida, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN. He’ll have 30 days to find a deal with a major league team or else return to the Buffaloes for 2023.
Yoshida, 29, made his NPB debut with the Buffaloes in 2016 and has since established himself as a key contributor at the plate. In 2022, he played in 119 games, hitting 21 home runs and producing an overall batting line of .335/.447/.561. That level of production and Yoshida’s age should lead to him garnering plenty of interest from North American teams. It was reported back in November that this posting was coming, but NPB contracts generally run until the start of December, which delayed the official move until now.
This year’s market for free agent outfielders isn’t huge in terms of quantity. MLBTR’s list of the top free agents featured Aaron Judge in the top spot and Brandon Nimmo at number nine. Those guys are both likely to receive nine-figure deals, but then there’s only a few guys capable of everyday jobs in the middle of the list. Joc Pederson accepted the qualifying offer to return to the Giants, leaving Andrew Benintendi, Mitch Haniger and Jurickson Profar as some of the few mid-market options. Then there are some guys likely to require less cost but with injury risks, such as Michael Conforto and Michael Brantley.
Teams will likely have wide variance in how they evaluate Yoshida, but it’s unlikely he will earn a contract that rivals the top-market guys. Seiya Suzuki was another highly-touted slugger who was posted a year ago and he eventually signed with the Cubs for five years and $85MM. He was 27 years old at the time, two years younger than Yoshida is now. That likely makes it difficult for Yoshida to beat Suzuki’s guarantee, though it’s possible some team values him significantly higher than the Cubs valued Suzuki. For the teams that miss out on the top free agent outfielders, Yoshida should add an interesting new option for the next tier of the market.
There will be a 30-day window where MLB clubs can negotiate with Yoshida’s representatives. If a deal is reached, the signing team will also owe money to the Buffaloes, with that amount being relative to the size of the contract given. Any big league team that signs him would owe the Buffaloes a fee equal to 20% of the contract’s first $25MM, 17.5% of the next $25MM and 15% of any dollars thereafter. If he does not reach an agreement with an MLB team, he will return to the Buffaloes for 2023. Yoshida has already been connected to the Blue Jays, Mariners and Yankees, with plenty of other teams sure to emerge in the next few weeks.