Following Justin Turner’s departure, the widespread assumption was that outfielder Masataka Yoshida would go into the season as the Red Sox primary designated hitter.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Fort Myers, manager Alex Cora confirmed that will be the case.
“Masa,” Cora said when asked who will primarily play the position. “I’m not saying he’s the DH but he will get the most at bats at that position.”
Cora said the Red Sox outfield alignment remains unsettled, but with the two-time Gold Glove winner Tyler O’Neill in the fold and no full-time DH on the roster, moving Yoshida into the spot makes logical sense. Yoshida was among MLB’s worst defensive outfielders in 2023, ranking only 2nd percentile in fielding run value according to Statcast, but he was among the club’s most productive hitters despite the arduous adjustment moving from Japan’s professional league to MLB.
The Red Sox have so far passed on adding any additional bats who could have filled the DH role. Former Miami Marlins slugger Jorge Soler reportedly signed with the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday morning, and ex-Red Sox outfielder Adam Duvall remains a free agent.
Entering spring training Boston’s outfield projects as O’Neill in left field, Jarren Duran in center and rookie Wilyer Abreu in right with Rob Refsnyder coming off the bench, but Cora said Ceddanne Rafaela will have an opportunity to compete for a spot as well. If he makes the team he would be the club’s center fielder, Cora said, but regardless of how the spring plays out he’s optimistic about the group and it’s potential.
“We’re going to be dynamic, we’re going to be more athletic in the outfield and hopefully that translates into wins,” Cora said.