The Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball announced last Friday that they had posted Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. Major League Baseball informed clubs on Monday that the star outfielder officially is available via the posting process.
Tsutsugo will have 30 days to negotiate a contract with an MLB club, meaning the deadline to get a deal done is Dec. 19 at 5 p.m. ET. He will be represented in negotiations by Wasserman, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand in October.
"In discussion with his agent, we agreed the best timing would be to set the baseball Winter Meetings as a target," BayStars exec Kazuaki Mihara told the Japan Times. The Winter Meetings run from Dec. 8-12 in San Diego, so Tsutsugo's window to seal a deal lines up well with what is one of baseball's most highly anticipated offseason events.
Tsutsugo has been an established bat in Japan since his first full season with Yokohama in 2014. He’s hit .284/.382/.525 across 10 professional seasons overall, and averaged almost 31 dingers over the last six years, peaking at 44 in 2016, when he slugged .680.
This is the first high-profile posting of a Japanese star under the new NPB-MLB agreement, in which the release fee the American club must pay is in accordance with the size of the contract (previously, Japanese clubs set a release fee that could be as high as $20 million). The fee is in accordance with the size of the contract; teams pay 20% of guaranteed money up to $25 million, 17.5% for promised cash between $25 million and $50 million, and then 15% of anything beyond that. The new agreement went into effect after the Angels signed two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani during the 2017-18 offseason.
Tsutsugo turns 28 on Nov. 26, so he won’t be as young as Ohtani, who made his Major League debut at 23. He’s known more for his bat than his glove, but could benefit from a relatively low-profile crop of Major League free-agent corner outfielders this offseason. Brett Gardner and Marcell Ozuna lead the left-field candidates, while Nicholas Castellanos and Kole Calhoun are the top right fielders on the market.