The Chicago Cubs are in need of an outfielder, and the free-agent market is scarce. Brandon Nimmo and Aaron Judge will demand the most out of teams, but other players such as Cody Bellinger, Kevin Kiermaier, and even Michael Conforto have been linked to the Cubs. However, another name just hit the market from Japan. Masataka Yoshida of the Orix Buffaloes has just declared his ability to be picked up by a major league team. The catch is that teams only have until January 20th to sign the 29-year-old outfielder.
Last season in Japan, Yoshida had an impressive slash line of .335/.447/.561 in 119 games. He added 21 home runs and 88 RBI to that stat line as well. What is most impressive is his very low strikeout rate. Yoshida struck out just 41 times in 508 plate appearances last season. Yoshida is not a big player at just 5'8, 176 pounds, and he is more of a left-field option than center field. However, if it is any indicator of how Yoshida will perform in the USA, Japan played the USA in the 2020 Olympic gold medal game. In that game, Yoshida batted 3rd and was 2-4 at the plate.
Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that although Yoshida has a tremendous contact rate, teams see Yoshida as a platoon option in left field. The Cubs were able to snag Seiya Suzuki out of Japan last off-season, so there could be a connection there. Jeff Passan also sent out a tweet saying there is a significant interest in Yoshida, but he did not mention which teams that includes.
The Cubs are in need of a center fielder, so Yoshida does not seem like someone they would go after. However, with that contact rate and high on-base percentage, he could be a better option than some of the bench outfielders the Cubs currently have on their roster. He may not be the starting center fielder the Cubs are still hoping to land, but if the price is right, he would be a solid addition to the team.