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Volume 23 No. 13
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Wasserman to represent Tsutsugo in MLB free-agent market

Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has been an All-Star the past five years in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Photo: Getty images
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has been an All-Star the past five years in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Photo: Getty images
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo has been an All-Star the past five years in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Photo: Getty images

Slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, one of the best home-run hitters in Japan, has signed with Wasserman to represent him in this season’s MLB free-agent market.

 

Joel Wolfe, Wasserman executive vice president and co-managing executive, baseball, is leading Tsutsugo’s representation, and Wasserman MLB agent Josh Persell is assisting.

Wolfe called Tsutsugo a “big time left-handed power” who could be an impact player and a “middle of the lineup bat.”

Tsutsugo, a left fielder with the DeNA BayStars of Nippon Professional Baseball, told reporters in Yokahoma, Japan, late last month that he intended to enter MLB through the posting system, according to the Japan Times. “I’ve dreamed of playing in the majors since before I turned pro, since I was a child,” Tsutsugo told the media in Japan.

The team has said it would facilitate the move, according to the Japan Times, and Tsutsugo will be free to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs once he is posted sometime before Dec. 5. Wolfe will then have 30 days to negotiate an agreement. 

Tsutsugo has been listed among the top offensive players available in MLB free agency and Bleacher Report ranked him No. 6 on its list of the top 10 corner outfielders on the market. He won numerous awards in Japan, including being a Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star every year for the past five years, winning the league’s Home Run Derby twice — in 2015 and 2018 — and being the All-Star Game MVP in 2016.

Tsutsugo will turn 28 on Nov. 26 and Wolfe noted that he is young for a Japanese hitter to test the MLB free agent market. Wolfe knows the market well: He represents Cubs starting pitcher Yu Darvish and former Mariners starting pitcher  Hisashi Iwakuma, who is back playing for Nippon Professional Baseball after playing in MLB from 2012 to 2017. He also represents retired slugger Hideki Matsui, who played for NPB and MLB. 

■ BORAS CLIENTS GET THE MOST qualifying offers: Scott Boras represents the most MLB players who received qualifying offers from clubs last week with three: Washington Nationals starting pitcher and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, Nationals third baseman and slugger Anthony Rendon and Houston Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.

All told, 10 players received offers for one-year deals of $17.8 million to re-sign with their club and have 10 days from receiving the offer — until Nov. 14 — to take or reject the offers. Any player who rejects the qualifying offer becomes an unrestricted free agent. If that player signs with another club prior to the 2020 MLB draft, the club that made the offer will receive draft compensation.

The number of qualifying offers is up from last year, when there were seven. Only one player, Dodgers starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu, accepted the qualifying offer, which last year was $17.9 million. Ryu, also a Boras client, is expected to be one of the top free agents on the market this year. Clubs cannot extend the offer a second time.

Some agents said the reason there were more qualifying offers this year is that there are more high quality free agents, especially pitchers.

Jet Sports Management represents starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, who was given the qualifying offer by the Mets. Excel represents Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi, who was tendered. The San Francisco Giants gave qualifying offers to starter Madison Bumgarner, who is represented by VC Sports Group, and to closer Will Smith, who is represented by CAA Sports.

MVP Sports Group represents third baseman Josh Donaldson, who received the qualifying offer from the Atlanta Braves. ISE Baseball represents Jose Abreu, who received the offer from the Chicago White Sox.

The St. Louis Cardinals tendered the offer to outfielder Marcell Ozuna, and he is represented by MDR Sports.

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.