Dodgers continue adding to bench, acquire Yoshitomo Tsutsugo in trade with Rays

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The Los Angeles Dodgers overhauled their bench Saturday. A few hours after reportedly agreeing to a contract with future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, Los Angeles acquired corner bat Yoshitomo Tsutsugo from the Tampa Bay Rays, the team announced. The Rays will receive cash or a player to be named later in the trade.

Tsutsugo, 29, was designated for assignment earlier this week following a 13 for 78 (.167) start to the season. He will make $7 million this season, the second year of the two-year, $12 million contract he signed with Tampa last offseason. The Rays will pay all of that minus slightly more than the prorated league minimum, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Had Tsutsugo cleared waivers and been released, Tampa would’ve been responsible for every penny. Now they at least get some salary relief.

In parts of two seasons with Tampa, Tsutsugo authored a .187/.292/.336 batting line with eight home runs in 272 plate appearances. He was a star power hitter in Japan, slugging 140 home runs with the Yokohoma DeNA BayStars from 2016-19. Tsutsugo spent 10 years with Yokohoma before pursuing a career in MLB.

The Dodgers have not received much production from their depth players this year, hence the moves for Pujols and Tsutsugo. Tsutsugo is a lefty hitter with power who has experience at first base, third base, and left field. He’ll help replace Cody Bellinger and lefty hitting bench bats Zach McKinstry and Edwin Rios, all of whom are on the injured list.

Los Angeles and Tampa Bay have been frequent trade partners the last few years. They’ve hooked up for eight trades since 2017, including deals involving Travis d’Arnaud, Adam Kolarek, and Sergio Romo. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman of course piloted the Rays before leaving for Los Angeles in 2014.

The Dodgers came into Saturday with a 21-17 record. They have won three straight games since their wretched 4-14 stretch.

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