The Rangers announced that first baseman/outfielder Yoshi Tsutsugo has been signed to a minor league contract. Tsutsugo’s deal contains an invitation to the Rangers’ big league Spring Training camp.
Tsutsugo came to the majors in the 2019-20 offseason, but Texas will be the fifth different organization Tsutsugo has suited up during his relatively brief time in North American baseball. A well-regarded slugger during his NPB career, Tsutsugo has only shown brief flashes of that form in MLB, hitting .197/.291/.339 over 640 plate appearances with the Rays, Dodgers, and Pirates.
Most of Tsutsugo’s offensive production came over a 43-game, 144-PA stint with Pittsburgh in 2021, which led the Bucs to re-sign him to a one-year, $4MM deal last offseason. Unfortunately for both sides, Tsutsugo managed only a .478 OPS over 193 PA in 2022, and he generated a sub-replacement level -1.3 fWAR. The Pirates released Tsutsugo in August and he caught on with the Blue Jays on a minor league deal, but Toronto never gave Tsutsugo a call back up to the majors.
Now entering his age-31 season, Tsutsugo will look for a fresh start as he tries to break camp with Texas. Tsutsugo offers a left-handed bat, a decent walk rate amidst his overall offensive struggles, and the ability to play first base and both corner outfield slots (though the Bucs only used Tsutsugo as a first baseman and DH in 2022). It makes for something of an imperfect fit on the Rangers roster, however, since starting first baseman Nathaniel Lowe and first-choice DH Brad Miller are also both left-handed hitters. The Rangers could see Tsutsugo as another depth option for its unsettled left field picture, even if Texas might prefer to see what it has in its younger players — assuming a much more established veteran than Tsutsugo isn’t ultimately acquired to take over the everyday left field job.