Monday, August 16, 2021

Pittsburgh Pirates sign Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.


The Pittsburgh Pirates signed first baseman Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (筒香 嘉智) on Sunday, August 15.
Tsutsugo has had an interesting road to this point. The utility man, who has played both corner infield spots and in left field in his career, was a highly-coveted power hitter in Japan. In 2016, as a 24-year-old with the Yokohama Bay Stars, he mashed 44 homers, then followed that up with 28, 38 and 29 homer seasons over the next three years. Since 2014, his lowest OPS in a season with Yokohama was .900.

That drew attention from MLB teams, and he eventually signed with the Tampa Bay Rays on a two-year, $12 million deal in December 2019. He never caught on against MLB pitching, though. In 2020, he slashed .197/.314/.395 in 51 games during the COVID-19-shortened season. He did hit eight home runs, which was tied for the second-most long balls on the team.
He played for the Rays and LA Dodgers this season. Should he play in a regular-season game, he will be the fourth Japanese player in team history, after pitcher Masumi Kuwata in 2007, infielder Akinori Iwamura in 2010, and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi for nine games in 2012.