Past reports have already linked the Blue Jays and Marlins to Yoshitomo Tsutsugo’s market, and now MLB.com’s Jon Morosi tweets that three AL Central teams are also in the mix. The White Sox, Tigers, and Twins all have some interest in the Japanese slugger, who has hit 185 homers for Yokohama since the start of the 2014 season. Tsutsugo’s left-handed power would fit in any of the three teams’ lineups, though his limited defensive capability as a first baseman or outfielder could see him mostly play first base if he wound up in Minnesota, since Nelson Cruz is locked into DH duties. Chicago could deploy Tsutsugo along with Jose Abreu in the first base/DH mix or play Tsutsugo in the outfield on days when Yasmani Grandal is getting a DH or first base day, while Tsutsugo would simply step right into an everyday role for the hitting-starved Tigers.
Any team that signs Tsutsugo will have to pay his former team, the Yokohama DeNA BayStars, a release fee that will be determined by the size of Tsutsugo’s eventual MLB contract. The 30-day posting window for Tsutsugo to find a contract in North America ends on December 19, so there is still lots of time for one of his five known suitors or perhaps other teams to strike a deal.
Here’s more from the AL Central….
- Morosi reports on another potential Detroit target in another tweet, noting that the Tigers and Angels are two of the teams interested in Josh Lindblom. The right-hander is looking to return to the majors on the heels of two outstanding seasons in South Korea’s KBO League, and some very impressive spin rate numbers on his four-seam fastball. Morosi writes that Lindblom has already received multi-year offers from more than one team, which isn’t surprising given how Lindblom would be an inexpensive yet high-ceiling addition to a lot of pitching staffs (such as rebuilding teams like the Tigers or hopeful contenders like the Angels).
- The Royals announced their 2020 coaching staff under new manager Mike Matheny, with a few new faces in the mix and some familiar faces returning in some different roles. Pitching coach Cal Eldred and hitting coach Terry Bradshaw will remain in their positions, while Pedro Grifol moves to bench coach from his past quality control/catching coach job, and Vance Wilson goes from bullpen coach to third base coach. Rusty Kuntz will become the Royals’ first base coach for the third time in his 12-year stint as a member of the K.C. organization, while Larry Carter will take over as bullpen coach after 22 years in various minor league roles for the club. John Mabry joins the staff as a Major League coach, after working under Matheny as the Cardinals’ hitting coach when Matheny was the St. Louis manager. Former coaches Dale Sveum and Mike Jirschele will remain with the Royals in as-yet-unassigned new roles.
- The Indians’ homegrown pitching has been the backbone of the team’s success in recent years, and The Athletic’s Zack Meisel (subscription link) looks at how the organization has been able to turn the likes of Corey Kluber, Mike Clevinger, Shane Bieber, Aaron Civale, and other relatively unheralded — none were drafted before the third round by the Tribe or other teams — arms into top-flight hurlers. Ruben Niebla, formerly the minor league pitching coordinator and now the big league team’s assistant pitching coach, has been a key figure in the system of finding what works for each pitcher, getting the pitcher to buy into the strategy, and then tailoring that development through all levels of the pitcher’s trip up the organizational ladder. “That communication is vitally important to us, that we make sure we have continuity and the same message as he goes through. There’s no confusion. It’s clear,” Niebla said.