Japanese Star Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to Be Posted
Major League Baseball has long been in pursuit of the next big star. As of the last decade-plus, that pursuit has reached outside the USA. One such place that has become a hotbed for foreign-born MLB talent has been Japan. The next Japanese player who dreams of a career in the major leagues is Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.
From stars like Yu Darvish to Masahiro Tanaka and more recently two-way star Shohei Ohtani, the country of Japan has continually brought MLB new high-level talent. While some may still be salivating over Ohtani in his second season with the Los Angeles Angels, there may soon be a new sheriff in town.
Per Jason Coskrey of the Japanese Times, Japan’s Yokohama DeNA BayStars announced Monday that they intend to make outfielder Tsutsugo available to MLB teams. The team announced the option to make the corner outfielder available through the NPB-MLB posting system.
Tsutsugo’s official posting will occur between November 1st and December 5th. During that time Tsutsugo will be able to negotiate a contract with any of the 30 MLB teams. All teams interested will have to go through the Wasserman Agency, Tsutsugo’s representation according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com.
Of course, on top of the agreed contract, the team who officially signs Tsutsugo will have far more to pony up. Whoever lands Tsutsugo will also have to pay a posting fee. That posting fee will be tied to the agreed-upon contract. That includes paying 20 percent of guaranteed money up to $25 million, 17.5 percent for promised cash between $25 million and $50 million, and then 15 percent for anything beyond that.
There are also a few provisions that allow for additional release fees should certain non-guaranteed earnings be triggered. Unlike countryman Ohtani, Tsutusgo won’t be subject to the restrictions on international signings that cut down his potential earnings. That is most likely due to Tsutsugo’s age of 27-years old.
Tsutsugo has long been a coveted name within Major League Baseball. He has been one of the more premier offensive talents in Japan since his arrival at the big stage in 2014. With over 4,000 career plate appearances under his belt, Tsutsugo has accumulated a slash line of .284/.382/.525. That’s alongside his 205 career home runs added on.
Tsutsugo didn’t have his best year in 2019 but still slugged .511 and produced 29 long balls. It does, however, fall short of his carer best .680 slugging percentage, .322 batting average, and .430 on-base percentage. On the flip side of that, Tsutsugo managed to rank sixth-best among Japanese hitters in OPS (.899).
Tsutsugo also managed to showcase himself as a patient hitter in 2019 ranking third in the Japan Central League with 88 walks on the season. Far more often than not, when Tsutsugo put a ball in play, it resulted in something productive. The Japanese star managed to stay away from the dreadful double-play ball for the most part with just five double-plays grounded into all season.
Throughout his career, Tsutsugo has managed seven seasons with over 20 doubles and 22 home runs. Over the last four years alone, Tustusgo has blasted 139 long balls.
The Potential Downsides
The only surface-level downsides for Tsutsugo reside in his fielding and his strikeout count. This season alone, Tsutsugo struck out 141 times marking a career-high for the ten-year vet. Added on to his previous numbers, Tsutsugo has now averaged just over one strikeout per game. On a fielding note, Tsutsugo hasn’t been very strong.
The Interest Level
While his bat will provide for a lot of interest, due to his age and fielding shortfalls, Tsutsugo won’t have as much demand as Ohtani did. He more closely resembles the likes of Kole Calhoun or Corey Dickerson and his interest will come primarily from the left-handed hitting side of things.
Teams that could pony up the cash and need some pop in the outfield include the Chicago White Sox who managed just six homers from right field all season. Tsutsugo could also help boost Chicago’s league-worst .9 WAR from outfield players. The Cleveland Indians could also afford to spend some cash and help an outfield that ranked 27th overall in slugging (.409). Even the current playoff participant Washington Nationals could use more power in the outfield. After all, they produced just 75 bombs from the outfield. Ultimately, it’s still too early to say for sure as it’s up for grabs to any team.
It’s always interesting to see a new saga unfold and coming soon, the Yoshitomo Tsutsugo saga will hit the MLB. It’ll be an interesting topic to kick off what will be an interesting off-season.