ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays are close to a deal with Japanese slugging outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. We look to answer some of the questions that fans may have following the deal.
Is this the only deal the team will make?
Hardly. Tsutsugo gives them another power bat (he averaged just under 35 home runs per season the last four years), but it's another left-handed bat, and with so many left-handed arms in this division, it would make sense for the Rays to go after another right-handed power bat as well. That's why Avisail Garcia's return to the team isn't out of the question yet, though as the old saying goes, it takes two to tango.
Can Tsutsugo's power in Japan translate to the United States?
Sure. But I wouldn't expect him to be a guy who hits 70-80 home runs over these two seasons. Hideki Matsui may be the greatest power hitter ever to terrorize Japanese professional baseball, but even Godzilla was a little more tame when he came to the States. In his final seven seasons in NPB, Matsui's lowest home run total was 34. The closest he came to reaching that total in America came in 2004, when he hit 31. But Matsui's run production numbers stayed relatively consistent all the way into his mid-30's. So I think if Tsutsugo can hit 20 homers, but still drive in 80-90 runs, he'll be considered a success.
So where will he play?
In Japan, Tsutsugo played in left field, and at both corner infield spots. He's not known to be a great defender, so I could see him splitting time in left with perhaps Austin Meadows, or being able to give Yandy Diaz or Ji-Man Choi a spell at third and first, but don't be surprised if the majority of the time you see him in the DH spot.