The Yankees and Ichiro Suzuki are putting the finishing touches on a two-year deal worth between $12 and $13 million, according to Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News. This confirms an earlier report from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that the two sides were still working on a structure of a deal in the same range.
The Yankees have been strict on not offering multi-year deals this offseason. They only increased this offer to two years when at least two other teams, believed to be the Phillies and Giants, offered him two-years deals worth $14 million and $16 million respectively, according to Joel Sherman of the NY Post and Mark Feinsand of the NY Daily News. Heyman reported that Ichiro wanted to be a Yankee so he passed up the other offers after the Yankees included the second year.
This is a bit of a risky move for the Yankees and one that seems kind of desperate too. Risky because while Ichiro did very well with the Yankees he also struggled for a year and a half with the Mariners and even if he does well in 2013, he’s going to be 40-years-old in 2014. Desperate because the Yankees didn’t make Russell Martin a multi-year offer which is especially odd considering it would be much easier to find another outfielder rather than another catcher.
The Yankes will now have an all left handed outfield with Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner out there. So expect them to increase their efforts to finding a right handed hitting outfielder. They probably won’t want a big name like Cody Ross, but rather target Scott Hairston, if he’ll sign a one-year deal, or Matt Diaz. Diaz hasn’t been attached to the Yankees in any rumors yet, but would be a good fit because he has hit .324/.364/.498 against lefties in his career. He struggled a bit last season, but he still managed to hit much better against lefties.
Ichiro made $17 million last season, but the Yankees only paid him $2 million for the final two months of the season. Prorated, that’s $6 million over the course of the entire season. So at two-years and $12 million that’s basically the same amount they paid him last season over each of the next two years.
Ichiro is 39 now. Outside of two months at the end of last season, he has been a shell of his former self at the plate. The Yankees have seen the turnaround of one Hall of Famer in Derek Jeter recently though and are betting that they have already seen a turnaround in another.