SF Giants sign veteran left-handed bat to minor league deal

Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers
Kansas City Royals v Texas Rangers / Ron Jenkins/GettyImages

There had been a report circulating on Sunday that the SF Giants had signed veteran bat Yoshi Tsutsugo to a contract. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle confirmed the report, indicating that it would be a minor-league pact.

SF Giants sign veteran left-handed bat to minor league deal

For the past few years, Tsutsugo had seemed like a fit for the Giants and it felt like only a matter of time before he would join the organization. He is doing so very late in the year, which is an interesting decision.

Perhaps, the Giants conveyed to the veteran hitter that there would be a chance for playing time down the stretch if he performed in the minors. The minor-league season is winding down, but there is still several weeks remaining. That is more than enough time for Tsutsugo to audition.

The Tampa Bay Rays signed the 31-year-old to a two-year, $12 million deal prior to the 2020 season. He had a successful career in the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, posting an .883 OPS across 10 seasons primarily with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars.

Tsutsugo's performance stateside did not go as planned as he struggled to the tune of a .630 OPS in parts of three seasons with the Rays, Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. His best stretch came in 2021 when he slashed .268/.347/.535 (135 OPS+) with eight home runs in 144 plate appearances for Pittsburgh.

Despite the subpar numbers, Tsutsugo has recorded an 11.6 percent walk rate throughout his career, so he does have a good sense of the strike zone. And, that is a quality that likely appeals to the Giants.

The left-handed hitter joined the Texas Rangers on a minor league deal this past winter. With their Triple-A club, he posted an .812 OPS with a solid 17.3 percent walk rate against a 28.3 percent strikeout rate. He was released midway through the season and briefly joined the Staten Island FerryHawks of the Atlantic Legaue.

Tsutsugo is limited defensively as most of his experience is at first base. However, he still continues to see sporadic playing time at third base and left field as well. It would not be a surprise to see him play for the Giants before the season comes to a close.