The Los Angeles Dodgers have been hit increasingly hard with injuries so far this season. After only a month and a half into the season, the Dodgers have 14 players who they thought would figure prominently in the season on the injured list.
The 15th player may come Monday, as Chris Taylor was scratched Sunday close to game time with right wrist soreness.
Backup is coming, but not in the form of players making it off of the IL. The Dodgers have reportedly traded for Yoshitomo Tsutsugo of the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations. In order to make room for him on the 40-man roster, Edwin Riós was transferred to the 60-day IL.
Tsutsugo plays first base, third base, and some outfield, being the very type of versatile player that the Dodgers employ. He was designated for assignment on Tuesday, and the Dodgers stepped in to grab him before he became a free agent. The Dodgers will pay him the prorated minimum amount, of $430,000.
The Japanese born player has been in the majors less a year, a hasn’t had the easiest time of if. Signed in December of 2019 from Japan by the Rays, he was in the States for Spring Training, went back to Japan, and then has to come back with little to no working knowledge of American pitchers and baseball. So far in 2021, he’s had 78 at bats, with a .167 batting average and a .462 OPS. He has struck out 30% of his at bats.
However, the Dodgers analytical department sees something in the 29 year old that they like. They’ve watched side by side videos of his swing here and when he played in Japan, and see how they can fix him. Manager Dave Roberts said those side by side videos show “he’s a shell of himself”. Roberts went on to say of Yoshi “there’s a lot of upside, there’s life to that bat. He’s a professional hitter”.
While in Japan, Tsutsugo played professionally for 10 seasons with the Yokohoma DeNA Bay Stars. From 2016-2019, he slugged 140 home runs. Adding another lefty power bat, should they get his swing back to where it once was, to the lineup will help ease the loss of Riós, who is scheduled to have surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder. Riós will not return until spring training of next season.
Tsutsugo is expected to join the team on Monday, as well as newly signed Albert Pujols, and David Price, who is returning from the injured list. The Dodgers start a four game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at home as well on Monday.