masataka yoshida yankees
Yukihito Taguchi-USA TODAY Sports

There’s no way around it. What the Yankees do and don’t do this winter to supplement the roster for 2023 will revolve around whether or not Aaron Judge returns. But even in the midst of a historically impressive offensive season from the outfielder, he needed help in New York’s lineup. Could NPB star Masataka Yoshida provide some support?

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi said the Bronx Bombers have interest in the 29-year-old outfielder if the Orix Buffaloes decide to post him for MLB teams this offseason:

So, there’s no guarantee Yoshida will be available for bidding in the first place. If he is, though, it’s easy to see why the Yankees are interested in employing him.

The outfielder has some pop, but it’s not a crazy amount. He’s played in the NPB since his age-22 season. Over that time, he’s slugged 135 home runs. This includes four seasons of 20-plus dingers in his last five opportunities (since 2018). Where he’s really excelled is putting the bat on the ball.

Yoshida has struck out just 307 times over the course of seven professional seasons. This also includes a triple slash of .326/.419/.538. In addition to those four years of 20-plus homers, he’s racked up six seasons of 20-plus doubles. Even if Yoshida were to experience regression coming over from Japan, he’d have the potential of being a solid contributor to any MLB team.

That’d especially be the case with the Yankees, who play in a stadium with a tantalizingly short porch in right field for left-handed hitters. Oh, did I mention that Yoshida hits from the left side? Well, he does.

As currently constructed, New York’s lineup is incredibly lopsided with right-handed hitters. The only two who aren’t are Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Cabrera, who are both switch-hitters. Obviously, Judge would add another right-handed bat to the Yankees’ lineup if he were to return. Plugging in a lefty like Yoshida would help give manager Aaron Boone a semblance of balance in his everyday lineup.

Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.