Baseball / MLB

Rays announce signing of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo

Kyodo

The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with Yoshitomo Tsutsugo who was made available to major league teams through the posting system by the Yokohama BayStars.

The Rays, who will pay a 20 percent release fee of approximately $2.4 million to Tsutsugo’s former club, said Monday on their website the 28-year-old slugger will be introduced in a press conference at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.

“I will do my best to demonstrate in the major leagues all the achievements I’ve earned in my 10 years with the DeNA Baystars,” Tsutsugo said in a statement.

Tsutsugo will wear No. 25, the same number he used in Japan.

Tsutsugo is a left-handed-hitting outfielder, who has a career average of .285 with 977 hits, 205 homers and 613 RBIs in 968 games in 10 seasons in Japan. He joined the Yokohama-based BayStars in 2010 as the No. 1 draft pick straight out of Yokohama High School.

This past season, he hit .272 with 126 hits, including 29 homers, and had 79 RBIs in 557 plate appearances.

He also appeared on the international stage as Japan’s cleanup hitter in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

The Rays finished second in the American League East last season with 96 wins and 66 losses, and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in six years as a wild card.

The team will open the 2020 season at home on March 26 against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Mets bring in Porcello

Rick Porcello’s $10 million deal with the New York Mets shows the fruits of free agency as much as Gerrit Cole’s $324 million contract across town with the Yankees.

While Cole set a record, location was among Porcello’s primary concerns.

“I live about an hour away from Citi Field,” he said Monday after the Mets announced his contract. “That opportunity of having the hometown comfort, the ability for my father and family and friends to be able to come and see these games in person and get to experience it a little bit more live, were pretty deciding factors for me.”

Porcello lives in Morristown, New Jersey, and was at Seton Hall Prep in West Orange when Detroit selected him with the 27th overall pick of the 2007 amateur draft. He was traded to Boston after the 2014 season and was guaranteed $95 million by the Red Sox over the next five seasons. He won the AL Cy Young Award with a 22-4 record in 2016 and was 17-7 in 2018, when he earned a World Series ring.

“This is a big deal for me,” he said. “I grew up a lifelong Mets fan as a kid, and now to get the opportunity to play for the organization that I cheered on for so many years is a huge honor.”

New York was the first team to contact Porcello during free agency and former Mets pitcher Al Leiter, now a New York baseball operations adviser, helped recruit him. Porcello remembered going to a game when Mike Piazza went deep.

A right-hander who turns 31 on Dec. 27, Porcello joins a rotation that includes Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard plus fellow New York-area natives Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz, who grew up on Long Island.

Michael Wacha, who agreed to a $3 million deal last week, also hopes to earn a rotation spot, and Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman also preparing for spring training as starters.

“I think we’re probably the deepest starting pitching rotation in baseball,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said last week.

Porcello was 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA in 32 starts last season. He has started throwing earlier this offseason and instituted new drills.