The SF Giants made a minor roster move on Sunday, moving up veteran hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo to Triple-A, per a team announcement. The Giants signed the left-handed bat to a minor league deal last month with the expectation that he would eventually be moved up to Triple-A.
SF Giants move former NPB star up to Triple-A
Tsutsugo was an accomplished hitter for the Yokohama Bay Stars of the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league before coming stateside. In 10 seasons with Yokohama, he slashed .281/.372/.511 with a 12.2 percent walk rate against a 21.3 percent strikeout rate. He eclipsed the 20-homer threshold in eight of 10 seasons.
The Tampa Bay Rays signed Tsutsugo to a two-year, $12 million pact after the 2019 season. Given the success that Tampa Bay has had with identifying talent, this felt like a deal that would pay immediate dividends.
That did not exactly come to fruition as the former NPB star struggled to the tune of a .708 OPS in 185 plate appearances in his rookie campaign with Tampa Bay. In fairness, the 2020 season was a weird year for a lot of reasons, including the pandemic-shortened season.
The Rays quickly cut ties with Tsutsugo in 2021. He briefly spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers that year but finished the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He had had best stretch with Pittsburgh as he posted an .883 OPS with eight home runs in 144 plate appearances. The Pirates rewarded him with a one-year, $4 million contract.
The 31-year-old struggled in 2022 and was eventually cut loose by the Pirates. Since then, Tsutsugo has appeared with both the Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers organizations. He even had a brief stint in independent ball before signing with the Giants.
Tsutsugo performed well in his brief stint in Double-A, slashing .311/.436/.578 with four home runs, 10 RBI, and nine runs in 55 plate appearances. He will join the Sacramento River Cats, which could mean that there is a corresponding roster move coming on that roster.
When a team signs a player this late into the season, it always raises an eyebrow. Perhaps, they needed a little extra depth in the upper minors to finish out the year. That could definitely be the case, but the Giants have been busy trimming Sacramento's roster lately. Or, they signed him with a chance at reaching the majors if he performed well. That could be the case as well, but with only 13 games remaining in the year, there is little time remaining.