Hot Stove: Japanese star Yoshitomo Tsutsugo attends ALCS at Yankee Stadium, will be posted for MLB teams
Tsutsugo is one of the top power hitters in Japan
At some point soon the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Japan will post star outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo for MLB teams. The soon-to-be 28-year-old has been one of the country's top power hitters the last few years and he has made it no secret he wants to come to MLB..
Tsutsugo said his dream of playing in the majors was borne out of watching on television as Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui thrived in MLB. He's held on to that throughout his high school and pro career. Watching the Astros and Yankees earlier this month only helped drive the point home.
"I thought the atmosphere was amazing," he said. "I also thought it was a really high level of play."
Tsutsugo has not yet been posted and thus can not negotiate with teams yet, so the Yankee Stadium trip was a friendly visit rather than a recruiting trip. Of course, the atmosphere could convince him to sign with New York when the time comes to hammer out a contract. It's unclear which ALCS game Tsutsugo attended. Maybe Game 4, which countryman Masahiro Tanaka started?
The 2019 season was Tsutsugo's worst since his 2016 breakout. He authored a .272/.388/.511 batting line with 29 homers, which is obviously very good, but it is a step down from his previous seasons. From 2016-18, Tsutsugo hit .300/.406/.594 and averaged 40 home runs per 150 games. Also, his strikeout jumped 25.3 percent last year, far above his career average (20.8 percent).
Here's some video of Tsutsugo launching homers this past season:
Tsutsugo is most often compared to Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber because he is a left-handed hitter with big power and on-base ability, but he isn't expected to hit for a high average against MLB caliber pitching, and both his defense and baserunning leave a lot to be desired. Tsutsugo carries risk as an all-or-nothing hitter who fits in best at DH, which will impact his market.
The posting window runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 5. Once posted, Tsutsugo will have 30 days to sign a contract. The team that signs him will pay a percentage of his contract to Yokohama as a "release fee.". The Angels, Blue Jays, Indians, Mariners, Rays, and White Sox could also be potential suitors for Tsutsugo, though that is only my speculation.
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