Yankees bench Brett Gardner for Marcus Thames against Jon Lester

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Brett Gardner is the Yankees’ starting left fielder, but after playing the opener against right-hander Josh Beckett he’s on the bench tonight against left-hander Jon Lester.
Marcus Thames takes Gardner’s place, which makes a lot of sense if the Yankees are willing to live with the massive defensive downgrade in left field. Thames has a bad glove, swings at everything, strikes out a lot, and has a .243 career batting average, but the one thing he can do really well is hit for power against left-handed pitching.
Thames is a career .256/.329/.516 hitter versus lefties, with 40 homers and 35 doubles in 620 at-bats. He’s probably 150-200 points of OPS better than Gardner against southpaws, which along with moving Curtis Granderson to the bottom of the order gives the Yankees a nice little boost for matchups with tough lefties like Lester.

Japanese outfielder Yoshida to negotiate with MLB teams

Masataka Yoshida
Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Outfielder Masataka Yoshida will be able to negotiate with Major League Baseball teams starting Wednesday under the posting system with the Japanese big leagues.

A member of Japan’s Olympic team last year, Yoshida will be posted at 8 a.m. EST on Wednesday and MLB teams have until 5 p.m. EST on Jan. 20 to reach an agreement, the commissioner’s office said Tuesday.

The 29-year-old hit .335 with 21 homers and 88 RBIs in 119 games this year for the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Pacific League. A left-handed batter, he has a .327 average with 133 homers and 467 RBIs over seven seasons in the Japanese majors.

Yoshida hit .350 with two RBIs as Japan won last year’s Olympic gold medal.

Under 2017 changes to the posting system, the posting fee will be 20% of the first $25 million of a major league contract, including earned bonuses and options. The percentage drops to 17.5% of the next $25 million and 15% of any amount over $50 million. There would be a supplemental fee of 15% of any earned bonuses, salary escalators and exercised options.

Hard-throwing right-hander Kodai Senga, another member of the Olympic team, is a free agent and does not have to go through the posting system because he has 11 seasons of service time in the Japanese major leagues.

Senga, who turns 30 in January, was 11-6 with a 1.94 ERA in 22 starts for the Pacific League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. He pitched three scoreless innings in two outings against the U.S. in the Olympics, allowing one hit and striking out six with two walks.