Will the San Diego Padres have an interest in Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, who will be posted by his Japanese team this winter?
A.J. Preller will leave no stone unturned in his quest for a San Diego Padres’ championship.
The Yokohama DeNA BayStars announced on Monday that they would be posting their slugging outfielder, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, this winter. Major league baseball teams will be interested in the player as Tsutsugo has slugged 139 homers in the last four years in the Japanese Central League. He owns a career .284/.382/.525 slash line in 3,400 at-bats and ten seasons in Japan.
“I’ve had this dream since I was little, so I told the team that I wanted to play with the intent of moving to the major leagues,” Tsutsugo told the Kyodo News in 2018. There is a strong desire for him to be recognized at the highest level of professional baseball.
Tsutsugo put up a .272/.388/.511 stat line in 2019 with a .899 OPS in 131 games and 464 at-bats. He smashed 29 homers last year and drove in 79 runs for the BayStars. The left-handed hitter has a plus eye at the plate but will swing and miss as well. He struck out 141 times last year while walking 88 times.
The Padres have a definite need for a left-handed hitter with some power, but can this Japanese star transition to the major leagues, and would he be a good fit for the San Diego Padres? There is a lot to like about his swing and power ability, but there are also some reasons to be very skeptical that he will be able to produce at the major league level.
The slow-footed Japanese player has played some first base and third base in his career, but he hasn’t played either position regularly since 2014. Scouting reports indicate he has a decent arm, but just lacks proper speed and ability to track the ball to be a productive player in the National League as far as outfield is concerned. He has played third base in 2019, but there are concerns about his range there.
The youngest player in BayStars franchise history to reach 100, 150, and 200 home runs, he will not be an inexpensive addition. His bat could play in the major leagues, but he looks to be a DH when it is all said and done. He will soon be 29, and there is reason to believe that he cannot improve enough on the field to be useful. The Padres will be cautious when evaluating him.
Here is a look at the swing, which looks productive.
The streaky-hitter can lift and drive Japanese pitching, but can he have success against hurlers in the major leagues that continually hit mid to upper 90’s with their fastballs? His strikeout percentage was at 25.3 percent this season, and that is a huge concern. His approach is described as systematic at the plate, and his swing mechanics are pretty clean, so there is some thought that major league coaching will only help him in that regard.
San Diego Padres’ officials will undoubtedly have an interest in the outfielder. On November 1st, the posting process opens, and teams will have 30 days to negotiate. The bottom line will come down to whether or not the Padres think Tsutsugo can play the outfield. Most reports indicate that he will be a significant issue there, so it only makes sense that the top-dollar paid to him will come from an American League team. The Padres will evaluate, but ultimately money probably cannot be risked on a player with so much uncertainty. Not at this point. The Padres will probably look elsewhere to improve.