The Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball have signed first baseman Tyler Austin, according to multiple reports out of Japan. ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link) that Austin’s deal is a one-year contract with a club option for 2021. Austin elected to become a free agent earlier this month rather than accepting an outright assignment to the Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate.
Austin had a bit of top-100 prospect attention early in his minor league career when coming up through the Yankees’ farm system. Over 209 MLB games and 583 plate appearances from 2016-19, Austin displayed some solid power (33 homers, .451 slugging percentage) but not a well-rounded offensive attack overall, with just a .219 career average and .292 on-base percentage. The right-handed hitting Austin posted some severe career splits (.884 OPS against lefties, .638 OPS against righties) and 215 of his 583 PA ended in a strikeout.
After the Yankees dealt Austin to the Twins as part of a July 2018 deadline deal for Lance Lynn, he bounced from Minnesota to San Francisco to Milwaukee in 2019, with a combined .188/.296/.409 slash line over 179 PA with the three teams. He’ll now head overseas to NPB in an attempt to find more regular playing time and revive his stock. Austin is only 28, so a return to the big leagues in the relatively near future isn’t out of the question depending on how he fares in Japan.