Free agent Ichiro Suzuki has already made it known that his preference is to stay with the Yankees this offseason, but while they are attending to other needs first he is getting offers from other teams. However, it appears Ichiro will ignore those other offers to wait until the Yankees are ready to negotiate.
“They are going after pitching first which is what the Yankees normally do,’’ Tony Attanasio, Ichiro’s agent told George King of the NY Post. “There has been a lot of interest [from teams], but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees. His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see.’’
The Yankees just wrapped up a deal with Hiroki Kuroda and will turn their attention to Mariano Rivera, and if he decides to come back, Andy Pettitte too. Russell Martin will also be a higher priority signing.
As for Ichiro, the Yankees haven’t exactly expressed interest in him yet. They probably view him as an option in right field next year, but Nick Swisher was a big bat for them. As well as Ichiro played for the Yankees, he did have a run of a year and a half where he was underwhelming offensively. I think that right now this is about keeping their options open leaving Brian Cashman a chance to get creative if the opportunity arises.
The $189 million budget comes in to play big time here though. The Yankees already had to pass on Torii Hunter as a possible Swisher replacement. But because Ichiro is already 39 and did have that inconsistent year and a half in Seattle, he could be a cheaper option potentially willing to sign a one-year deal. So while the Yankees are keeping their options open, Ichiro is a decent one.
In the year and a half before joining the Bombers, Ichiro looked like he might be done as a hitter and hit just .268/.302/.342. He had a strong resurgence with the Yankees, hitting .322/.340/.454 in 64 games, but his overall numbers last year, .283/.307/.390 didn’t even add up to a .700 OPS which still makes him sort of a gamble. At age 39, at least he provides speed and defense still though.
My guess is that Cashman and the Yankees will wait on Ichiro. If nothing else materializes by January they’ll probably start talks up with him. It’s good to know he’s willing to wait because that’s a nice fall back option to have.