Pittsburgh Pirates News: Team Signs Yoshi Tsutsugo

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 22: Yoshi Tsutsugo #28 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pinch hits and flies out to right field against the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning at Oracle Park on May 22, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 22: Yoshi Tsutsugo #28 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pinch hits and flies out to right field against the San Francisco Giants in the ninth inning at Oracle Park on May 22, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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The Pittsburgh Pirates have agreed to terms with Japaneese utility man Yoshi Tsutsugo.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed Japaneese utility man Yoshi Tsutsugo. The Pirates will be Tsutsugo’s third team this year. He started off the year with the Tampa Bay Rays, was designated for assignment by the 2020 World Series runner up, then signed with the 2020 World Series winners, the Los Angeles Dodgers before being DFA’d once again, and then being sent to Triple-A.

The Rays had signed Tsutsugo out of the NBP (Nippon Professional Baseball) in the 2019-2020 off-season. Tsutsugo had long been a high-tier slugger over in Japan, blasting 25+ long balls in his final 4 seasons. The lefty slugger signed a two-year deal with the Rays and his first season in the United States could have went better. He hit .197/.314/.395 with 8 home runs, .309 wOBA, and 98 wRC+ over the course of his first 185 MLB plate appearances. He showed some decent pop with a .197 isolated slugging percentage while having an even better 14.1% walk rate. He was pretty much a flyball-or-bust kind of hitter, having a 45.4% FB%.

This past year, Tsutsugo has stepped to the plate 118 times with the Rays and Dodgers. He’s hit just .155/.256/.194 with a .216 wOBA, and 36 wRC+. Tsutsugo is still walking at a healthy 11.6% rate, but any power he showed in 2020 has dissapeared. His ISO this year comes in the double digits with a .039 mark.

Since being sent to Triple-A though, he’s been a pretty solid hitter. He’s hitting .257/.361/.507 with a .363 wOBA, and 108 wRC+ in 180 plate appearances. He’s shown some pop with a .250 ISO and 10 home runs. His strikeout rate currently sits at a strong 17.8% mark and he’s still drawing walks at a high rate of 14.4%.

Tsutsugo has consistnetly been able to hit the ball hard in the major leagues having a 90.1 MPH exit velocity and 44.5% hard hit rate. So maybe the Pirates can figure out something with him. With his hard hit rates, if he becomes more line-drive focused rather than flyball focused, he could be a solid hitter.

The slugger also provides some depth at multiple positions. Tsutsugo has played left field, first base, and third base in the major leagues. Though not a Gold Glove caliber, he’s not going to cost runs at any of the positions.

Overall, it’s a solid depth signing for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tsutsugo provides depth at multiple positions and it’s a no-risk flyer on a guy who showed some promise in 2020. He provides some powerful depth as well, another area of depth the Pirates could use.

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