YOSHI TSUTSUGO, CORNER OUTFIELDER
|Born: November 26, 1991
Signed: Int’l Free Agent, 2019 (Rays)
How Acquired: Free Agent
WTM’s PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Tsutsugo put up big power numbers in Japan from 2014-19, including huge years in 2016 and 2018. The Rays signed him to a two-year deal covering 2020-21. He struggled badly in the majors, first with the Rays and then very briefly with the Dodgers. He struggled in AAA, too, after the Dodgers sent him there, but he eventually started hitting well. He’s played first, third and the outfield corners, and seems to be at least solid at first, maybe better than that in left. Third base might not be a good idea. The Pirates signed him after the Dodgers released him.
Tsutsugo played mostly third base for Shonan in the Japanese Eastern League, one of the Japanese minor leagues. He got into three games with Yokohama in the Central League. He hit for a lot of power as an 18-year-old.
Tsutsugo roughly split his time between Yokohama and its Eastern League affiliate, also by then located in Yokohama. He put up roughly similar numbers in both spots and had more trouble than the previous year, not hitting for a good average and striking out more, but still hitting for good power. He played third in the Eastern League and first in the Central League.
Spending most of the year in the Central League, Tsutsugo struggled more in both leagues. He increased his walk rate a lot, but his power largely disappeared. He played mostly at third, but spent some time at first and in right.
Tsutsugo spent most of the season in the Eastern League and hit a little better, mostly by making more contact. The power still wasn’t there. He played at third more than anywhere else.
At age 22, Tsutsugo had a breakout year. He spent it all except for three games in the Central League. He mostly played left.
Yokohama played Tsutsugo strictly in the outfield and he had another good season.
Tsutsugo had a huge season, including the best plate discipline of his career up to that point, along with the great power.
Tsutsugo didn’t put up the kind of numbers as the previous year, but still had a strong season.
Still playing strictly in the outfield, Tsutsugo had his second best season.
As in 2018, Tsutsugo fell off a bit from his big season. Yokohama used him a little at third. After the season, he signed a two-year, $12M deal with Tampa Bay, with Yokohama getting $2.4M, or 20%, as a posting fee.
The Rays played Tsutsugo more or less evenly at third and in left. He had trouble at third, posting an .846 fielding percentage. He hit for some power and drew walks, but had trouble making contact and had a weak season overall.
The Rays played Tsutsugo semi-regularly at first and DH, but he struggled badly, this time with little power. In mid-May they sent him to the Dodgers, with the Rays picking up the remainder of his guaranteed salary. He missed a month starting in early June with a calf strain and didn’t hit at all in very limited playing time. The Dodgers outrighted him to AAA in early July. He got off to a bad start there, hitting just .119 (8-for-67) in his first 17 games. After that, he hit .370 (30-for-81). The Dodgers released him anyway in mid-August and the Pirates signed him two days later.
Surprisingly, the Pirates signed Tsutsugo to a major league deal and put him on the active roster. They’re obviously hoping he figured something out in AAA. It’s not easy to see what role he’ll serve in. He hits left-handed, as do Colin Moran, Gregory Polanco and Ben Gamel, and the Pirates have been even more helpless against LHPs than against RHPs. There’s also the team’s maddening unwillingness to sit Polanco. Tsutsugo becomes a free agent after the 2021 season, so the Pirates are essentially giving him a six-week platform to showcase himself for all 30 teams. If that sounds irrational, it’s probably because it is.
|Signing Bonus: N/A
MiLB Debut: 2021
MLB Debut: 7/24/2020
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2021
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: December 16, 2019
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 1.000
|December 16, 2019: Signed by the Tampa Bay Rays from Japan through posting process.
May 11, 2021: Designated for assignment by the Tampa Bay Rays.
May 15, 2021: Traded by the Tampa Bay Rays to the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations.
July 7, 2021: Outrighted to AAA by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
August 14, 2021: Released by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
August 16, 2021: Signed as a free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.