The Yankees have been very resistant against giving out multi-year deals this offseason, but eventually had to in order to keep Ichiro, who was got two-year offers from the Phillies and one other team believed to either be the Giants or the Red Sox. They did save at least $2-$3 million compared to other offers though since he had a strong desire to remain in Pinstripes.
The Yankees have directly missed out on at least three other options because of their unwillingness to offer two-year deals, Russell Martin, Jeff Keppinger, and Torii Hunter. So either they are more desperate now than they were at the start of the offseason or they really like Ichiro. Finding another catcher is going to be much harder than finding another outfielder though.
Ichiro, 39, hit .322/.340/.454 in 64 games with the Yankees last season. Over the year and a half prior to that he hit just .268/.302/.342 in 257 games though. His numbers with the Yankees could just be a case of small sample size, but it could also be that he had quit on the Mariners with such a bad and young team or perhaps Yankee Stadium just suits his swing. Whatever happened, Ichiro absolutely loved being a Yankee because of the winning atmosphere and veteran clubhouse and was outspoken about wanting to return.
With Ichiro in place, the Yankees now have an all left handed hitting outfield so expect them to go after a right handed outfield bat now. Scott Hairston is still out there and they have shown an interest in him. Matt Diaz is also available and would be a good fit. Cody Ross would also be a fit and is still available, but he will likely be able to get a bigger contract and possibly even more guaranteed playing time elsewhere.
The Yankees are also going to have to figure out a way to fit Ichiro on to the 40-man roster which is full, but I’ll get into that more later today.