Rays Dip Into International Market To Add Power To Lineup
The reported deal has not been announced by the team. It has been reported to be a 2-year deal worth $12MM including a $2.4MM posting fee to be paid to his former club, the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Japan Central League.
Tsutsugo, 28, in his 10-year career has appeared in 976 games batting .284/.382/.525 and has hit 205 homers spanning 4040 plate appearances. He’s hit 44, 28, 38, and 29 homer in each of the last four seasons. His best season came in 2016 when he hit .322/.430/.680 with 44 homers and 110 driven in. Last season, he hit .272/.388/.511 with 29 homers and 79 driven in spanning 557 plate appearances.
According to Baseball America ($ Required), Tsutsugo will have success in MLB if he can adjust to the fastballs he will see. The big question surrounding him is where to play him in the field. He started his career at first base, then third base, and most recently in left field. Jeff Passan (Twitter) relays that Tsutsugo had high exit velocity numbers in Japan, something that fits in perfectly with what the Rays have hunted the last few seasons.
The fact that Tampa Bay dipped into the international market shouldn’t come as a surprise in the organizations never ending quest for talent. “I know there are multiple players in the market that fit us pretty well and we need to turnover every rock, we need to look in every corner to find players that can help us.” Rays Vice President Peter Bendix said in San Diego when asked about the Rays interest in the international players. “We’re always trying to strike that balance of being as we can now and also having an eye on the future. I think to do that we’d be doing a disservice if we weren’t looking at every player that was available to us.”
According to Mark Feinsand (Twitter), Tsutsugo had larger offers on the table but chose the Rays because they were a better fit.
The Rays are still in the hunt for a right handed bat, but weren’t against adding a left-handed bat to improve their performance against right-handers. “You don’t want to eliminate anyone from a conversation.” Rays General Manager Erik Neander said leading up to the Winter Meetings. “If we feel think that they (left-handed bat) can improve our offense enough against right handed pitching and to be ok with against left handed pitching.”