Rays finalizing deal with Japanese OF Tsutsugo

Sports
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo

FILE – In this March 15, 2017, file photo, Japan’s Yoshitomo Tsutsugo watches the flight of his solo home-run off Israel’s pitcher Dylan Axelrod in the sixth inning of their second round game at the World Baseball Classic at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. The Tampa Bay Rays are working to finalize a two-year contract worth about $12 million with Japanese slugger Tsutsugo, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday, Dec. 13, 2019, because the agreement had not been announced. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi, File)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays are working to finalize a two-year contract worth about $12 million with Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because the agreement had not been announced.

Tsutsugo was made available to major league teams through the posting process by Yokohama of Japan’s Central League. Major league clubs have until 19 to negotiate with Tsutsugo, who turns 28 on Nov. 26. A contract for $12 million guaranteed would require the Rays to pay a $2.4 million posting fee to Yomiuri.

A left-handed-hitting corner outfielder, Tsutsugo batted .272 this year with 29 homers and 79 RBIs. He has a .285 average with 205 homers and 613 RBIs during 10 seasons with Yokohama, including 44 homers and 110 RBIs in 2016.

Tampa Bay, which came within one win of reaching the AL Championship Series this year, traded outfielder Tommy Pham to San Diego for outfielder Hunter Renfroe as part of a five-player deal last week. Pham hit .273 with 21 home runs and 68 RBIs last year.

Renfroe hit 33 homers last year, his third full season in San Diego, but struggled with injuries during the second half.

Tampa Bay catcher-first baseman Travis D’Arnaud, a key mid-season addition, signed as a free agent with Atlanta.

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