1B/OF Yoshi Tsutsugo
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, known around the league as ‘Yoshi’, has a lifetime 76 OPS+ in MLB across 182 games. Originally brought to North America by the Tampa Bay Rays, Tsutsugo had some hype attached to him after a successful career in Japan’s NBP.
Across ten seasons in Japan, Tsutsugo carried a .910 OPS, routinely hitting at least 20 home runs and walking at a generous clip. His best season came in 2016, when he had a slash line of .322/.432/.684, hitting 45 homers and driving in 111 runs.
Tsutsugo started his MLB career in 2020 with the Rays, playing in 51 games in the shortened COVID season and batted to a 99 OPS+. His next season was a mixed bag, as he moved from the Rays to the Dodgers, then to the Pirates. Yoshi never got going with either the Rays or Dodgers playing in only 26 games for the former and 12 for the latter. However, Tsutsugo seemed to have found something on the Pirates.
Yoshi got into 43 games with the Buccos in 2021 and slashed a solid .268/.347/.535 while spending time at first base, right field, and DH. This success didn’t last as Tsutsugo fell back to earth to the tune of a 37 OPS+ across 50 games for the 2022 Pirates. In addition to his MLB time he spent 38 games in Triple-A that season, with 29 of those actually coming in the Blue Jays organization. He had an .841 OPS as a Bison, but would not return to the organization in 2023.
Last year was a whirlwind for the former NPB slugger, spending time in the Rangers and Giants organizations and ending his year in independent baseball. He outclassed pitchers as a member of the Staten Island Ferryhawks, clubbing seven home runs and two doubles in just 39 at-bats.
Tsutsugo’s time in North America has been inconsistent. He’s seen success in the upper levels of the minor leagues, but has yet to find his footing in MLB. With his versatility, he’d be capable of providing depth at first base, third base, corner outfield, and DH. If he’s looking, it may be worth offering him an invite to spring training, even if it means he shares time with Spencer Horwitz at first base and DH for the majority of the season in Buffalo.