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SF Giants to sign former Pirates slugger, NPB star to minor-league deal

The SF Giants have reportedly come to an agreement with former Pittsburgh Pirates slugger and NPB star Yoshi Tsutsugo.

The SF Giants have come to an agreement with corner bat Yoshi Tsutsugo and are expected to sign the slugger to a minor-league deal, according to a report by Yuki Yamada of Sankei Sports. Tsutsugo signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers last offseason but opted out in June and did not land another deal with an MLB organization. Instead, he signed with the Atlantic League and hit .359/.479/.949. Tsutsugo last appeared in the majors in 2022 with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Tsutsugo starred in Japan with the Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars from 2010-2019, hitting .285/.382/.528 with 205 home runs in exactly 4,000 plate appearances. Following a stretch from 2016-2019 that featured a 45 and 38-homer campaign, Tsutsugo decided to try and make the jump across the Pacific Ocean to MLB. He inked a two-year, $12 million contract with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Heading to the majors for the unprecedented pandemic-shortened 2020 season made things even more difficult for Tsutsugo, and he struggled to find his footing. Playing nearly every day with Tampa between designated hitter, left field, and third base, he hit .198/.314/.395 with eight home runs in 51 games. After struggling even more mightily in 2021, he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later.

The slugger was even worse during a short stint with the Giants' biggest rival and was released before the end of the season. He signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who called him up. For the first time in his big-league career, Tsutsugo was productive with the Pirates. In 43 games to finish the season, he hit .268/.347/.535 with eight doubles, eight home runs, 15 walks, and 33 strikeouts in 144 plate appearances.

Returning to Pittsburgh for the 2022 campaign, Tsutsugo was unable to pick up where he left off. While he had an explosive week in the minor leagues, the left-handed power hitter posted a .478 OPS across 50 games before the Pirates designated him for assignment, eventually releasing him. He finished the season with the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate, hitting .265/.381/.459 in 29 games, before inking a deal with Texas during the offseason.

Tsutsugo was solid at Triple-A for the Rangers, hitting .249/.380/.432, but did not see a path to playing time in Texas. However, with teams dealing with minor league roster crunches as a result of MLB instituting a 180-player cap, he was unable to find a landing spot. So, relegated to the Atlantic League, he absolutely crushed opposing pitching, highlighted by seven home runs in 12 games.

With Blake Sabol, Joc Pederson, and LaMonte Wade Jr. on the big-league roster, it seems unlikely that the SF Giants will be in any rush to get Yoshi Tsutsugo to the major leagues. However, presuming he is productive at Triple-A Sacramento, he could be in line for a call-up if Pederson or Wade goes down with an injury.