The Dodgers have acquired infielder Yoshi Tsutsugo from the Rays in exchange for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Infielder Edwin Rios was moved to the 60-day injured list to create roster space for Tsutsugo.
The Rays designated Tsutsugo for assignment last Tuesday, and today’s trade closes the book on an overall disappointing 18-month tenure for Tsutsugo in Tampa Bay. Signed to a two-year, $12MM free agent deal in the 2019-20 offseason, Tsutsugo hit .197/.314/.395 over 185 plate appearances last season, and had only two hits over 16 PA during Tampa’s postseason run. The 29-year-old followed that rookie season up with a rough .167/.244/.218 slash line in 87 PA this season, which prompted the Rays to send Tsutsugo to the DFA wire.
Tsutsugo is still owed roughly $5.49MM of his original $7MM salary for the 2021 season, and according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), the Dodgers will cover slightly more than $430K — the prorated share of the minimum salary. This means the Rays will eat the roughly $5MM remaining of Tsutsugo’s salary, making his contract a fairly costly mistake considering the team’s low spending habts.
After years of big numbers with NPB’s Yokohama DeNA BayStars, Tsutsugo drew plenty of attention when he was posted by the BayStars in the winter of 2019-20. The Dodgers weren’t one of the teams known to have interest in Tsutsugo’s services, but their interest could have been piqued given their current needs.
Tsutsugo has played third base, first base, and left field for Tampa Bay, so he fits the Dodgers’ preferred model as a multi-position player (the team’s signing of Albert Pujols notwithstanding). While L.A. already has a number of left-handed hitting options, Tsutsugo is something of a more experienced option due to his time in Japan, even if he has relatively little time in Major League Baseball. Tsutsugo could be seen as something of a straight replacement for Rios, another lefty bat with corner infield and corner outfield experience. Rios will miss the remainder of the season due to surgery on his right shoulder.