Though the Rays decided it was time to move on from struggling slugger Yoshi Tsutsugo, the Dodgers are eager to see what he can do for them.
“I’m very excited about this player, this person,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Obviously had a well-decorated career in Japan. Coming over here, (he) just hasn’t really gotten any traction with the Rays. ... So I’m just really excited to get to know him and have our hitting guys work with him.”
The Rays designated Tsutusgo for assignment last week, then worked out a trade late Saturday with the Dodgers for a small amount of cash above the $430,000 prorated share of the major-league minimum salary. The Rays still are paying the approximate $5 million remaining on his original two-year, $12 million (pre-pandemic) deal, plus an additional $2.4 million to his Yokohama team.
Tsutsugo, 29, is set to join the Dodgers for tonight’s home game against the Diamondbacks. Roberts said they plan to use Tsutsugo off the bench at first and third base, in leftfield and as a pinch-hitter as the Dodgers, like the Rays, make liberal use of their full roster.
Their initial focus will be to address his hitting, given his struggles with the Rays, hitting .187 with eight homers, 29 RBIs and a .628 OPS in 77 games since coming over from Japan for the 2020 season. That includes just .167-0-5-.462 this year. Plus, Tsutsugo has struck out nearly 30 percent of the time.
“There’s things that our hitting guys have already kind of dug into,” Roberts said “If you do a side-by-side (comparison) of him in Japan and him with the Rays, he’s a shell of himself. So there’s obviously some things that we’ve got to talk through.
“We want to hear his take on where he’s at mechanically, process-wise. So we can have a conversation and kind of work together to kind of figure this thing out because there’s a lot of upside. There’s life to the bat. He’s a professional hitter.”
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