MLB: Yoshi Tsutsugo Inks Minor League Deal With San Francisco

Yoshi Tsutsugo of the Texas Rangers looks on during a spring training workout at Surprise Stadium on March 5, 2023 in Surprise, Arizona. (Photo by Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

First baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants on Monday, and is looking to get back to the Major Leagues. 

This is his fourth consecutive season playing in the United States. Tsutsugo will be assigned to Triple-A Sacramento in the Pacific Coast League this week.  

Tsutsugo, 31, born in Hashimoto, Japan has not lived up to expectations at the Major League level since he made his debut on July 24, 2020, during the COVID-19 Pandemic shortened season. 

Tsutsugo signed a minor league contract on January 15, 2023, with the Texas Rangers and received an invitation to spring training. Tsutsugo was assigned to Triple-A Round Rock, where he played in 51 games, batting .249 over 208 plate appearances with 42 hits, nine doubles, two triples, six home runs, 33 RBI, two stolen bases, and 36 walks with a .812 OPS before being released on June 22. 

Tsutsugo then signed with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League on August 1. He played in 12 games with 48 plate appearances, batting .359 with 14 hits, two doubles, seven home runs, 13 RBI, nine walks, and 16 strikeouts with a 1.428 OPS before being picked up by the Giants. 

Last offseason, Tsutsugo started the year in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization after signing as a free agent on November 29, 2021 for $4 million. He split time between Triple-A Indianapolis and Pittsburgh. In Triple-A Indianapolis, Tsutsugo played nine games with 36 plate appearances, batting .440 with 11 hits, two doubles, two home runs, 12 RBI, and nine walks including a 1.316 OPS. 

With the Pirates, he played in 50 games, batting .171 over 193 plate appearances with 29 hits, four doubles, two home runs, 19 RBI, 19 walks, 50 strikeouts and a .478 OPS before being released on August 5, 2022. 

Tsutsugo then signed a minor league contract with the Toronto Blue Jays on August 16, 2022, and was assigned to Triple-A Buffalo for the remainder of last season, where he played in 29 games, batting .265 and 26 hits, four doubles, five home runs, 18 RBI, and 19 walks. 

In 2021, Tsutsugo played with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Tampa Bay Rays, and Triple-A Oklahoma City after the COVID-19 Pandemic shortened season. 

He played for all three teams at the Major League level, and in 81 games, he batted .217 with 50 hits, 12 doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 32 RBI, and 29 walks. 

In Triple-A Oklahoma City with the Dodgers organization, he played in 43 games, batting .257 and recording 38 hits, seven doubles, 10 home runs, 32 RBI, 26 walks, and 32 strikeouts before he was released on August 14, 2021. 

During Tsutsugo’s first Major League season in 2020, he helped the Tampa Bay Rays reach the World Series for the second time in franchise history, playing in 51 games with 185 plate appearances and batting .198 recording 31 hits, five doubles, one triple, eight home runs, 24 RBI, 26 walks, and striking out 50 times. 

Prior to joining the Ray, Tsutsugo spent 10 seasons with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars in Nippon Professional Baseball, where he was a five-time All-Star from 2015-19. During the 2016 season, he led the NPB in home runs and tied for the league lead in RBI, and ranked third in the Central League in batting average, second in on-base percentage, and was the NPB All-Star Game MVP. He won the Best Nine Award three times from 2015-17. 

Tsutsugo played in 968 games in NPB, all with the Baystars, and in 4,000 plate appearances, he batted .285 with 977 hits, 195 doubles, 11 triples, 205 home runs, 613 RBI, 532 walks and a .910 OPS. 

Anthony Franco of stated on Monday, “Since Tsutsugo is currently in the organization before September 1, he would be eligible for postseason play if he hits well enough to warrant a look and should the Giants qualify.” 

Tsutsugo’s left-handed bat might add some pop for the Giants. With LaMonte Wade Jr. and Joc Pederson splitting time defensively at first base, and the Giants in the mix for the National League Wild Card, he might get called up down the stretch. 

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