Rays Need Offense
After finishing 18th in the Major Leagues in runs scored in 2019, the Rays lost several key bats from the lineup. Travis d’Arnaud and Avisail Garcia have departed via free agency and Tommy Pham (along with Jake Cronenworth) was traded away for Hunter Renfroe and Xavier Edwards.
Pham, Garcia, and d’Arnaud were all very important pieces in Tampa’s 96-win season that led them to game five of the ALDS against the Astros.
Keep in mind, even with those guys the Rays still finished in a four-way tie for 15th in runs scored. Their primary focus right now is finding run production.
Their first big move in that direction came via the international market in Japanese slugger, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Tsutsugo is primarily a left-fielder but can play both corner outfield positions and slot in at 1B and DH for the Rays.
The Rays hope his on-base and power skills will help replace some of what they lost in Tommy Pham. Will his production in Japan lead to a good Major League player?
Lost in Translation
The question on everybody’s mind is will his skills translate to the Major Leagues? While the Nippon Professional Baseball league is certainly a very high level of competition, it is not the Major Leagues. His production in the NBP is an exciting prospect, but it must be taken with a grain of salt. After all, Jabari Blash slashed .261/.397/.540 and hit 33 homers in the NPB last season.
Tsutsugo is coming off his worst year in the past five seasons, slashing .272/.388/.511. His K-rate rocketed past his career 20.1% reaching 25.3%. Additionally, his defense seems to be in question, even at first base.