As the Winter Meetings heat up, here is a recap of the various rumors floating around about the Rays and their plans this offseason:
The Akiyama and Tsutsugo Rumors:
According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, the Tampa Bay Rays have “expressed” interest both Shogo Akiyama of the Japan Pacific League and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo of the Nippon Professional League.
While Akiyama is ranked as the 45th best free agent this offseason by MLBTR and is projected to earn 6M over two years, Tsutsugo is unranked and without a projection. The former is a 31-year-old, left-handed hitting outfielder while the latter is a 28-year-old, left-handed hitting first and third baseman as well as an outfielder.
Playing with the Saitama Seibu Lions, Akiyama hit 69 homeruns and stole 43 bases from 2017 through 2019. He slashed a stellar .323/.403/.524 during a stellar 2018 campaign. Playing with the Yokohama DeNa Baystars, Yoshitomo has proven to be a true power threat. He hit 44 bombs in 2014 and has hit at least 24 each of the past four seasons.
It will be interesting to see just how interested the Rays are as their current need for right-handed power would not be satisfied by either Akiyama or Tsutsugo as both swing from the left side.