Former NPB star returns to familiar territory after brief stint in SF Giants organization

2024 San Francisco Giants Spring Training
2024 San Francisco Giants Spring Training / Zac BonDurant/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

The SF Giants released former NPB star Yoshi Tsutsugo at the end of spring training. The veteran bat had hoped to catch on with another major league team, but he will return to the NPB instead after spending the past four seasons stateside. This time, he is joining the Yomiuri Giants according to the Sponichi Annex.

Former NPB star returns to familiar territory after brief stint in SF Giants organization

Tsutusgo started the 2023 season with the Texas Rangers organization, but caught on with the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic League. During his time with the FerryHawks, he posted a 1.428 OPS with seven home runs in 48 plate appearances.

This caught the attention of the Giants as they inked him to a late-season, minor league deal. It was officially a one-year deal that expired at the end of the season, but signings that occur in August and September tend to morph into a psuedo, two-year deal.

The lefty bat was assigned to Double-A where he registered a 1.014 OPS with four home runs and 10 walks in 55 plate appearances before moving up to Triple-A. His time with Sacramento was brief as he sustained a fractured thumb that put him on the shelf for the remainder of the year. If not for the injury, Tsutsugo was a candidate to join the Giants late in the year.

San Francisco re-signed him to a minor league deal in the offseason. This included a camp invite. Despite this, there was no direct path to making the Opening Day roster. Tsutsugo has experience at first base and in the corners of the outfield. The Giants have coverage at those positions, especially from the left side. He tallied just one hit in 10 Cactus League at-bats before being reassigned to minor league camp and eventually released.

The 32-year-old slashed .197/.291/.339 (76 OPS+) with an 11.6 percent walk rate, 26.9 percent strikeout rate, and a .142 ISO in parts of three seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Pittsburgh Pirates. He never fully put it together against major league pitching, but he did have a stretch in 2021 where he produced an .883 OPS in 144 plate appearances with Pittsburgh.

The left-handed hitter returns to the NPB where he spent his first 10 seasons as a pro, primarily with the Yokohama Bay Stars. He has an .883 career OPS in the NPB while eclipsing the 20-homer threshold in eight of 10 seasons.