It took about a week after the deal was agreed to, but Ichiro Suzuki and the Yankees finally made his two-year, $13 million deal official yesterday. To make room for him on the 40-man roster they designated reliever Jim Miller for assignment.
The Yankees gave Ichiro a two-year deal despite insisting against two-year offers for Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, Jeff Keppinger, and Torii Hunter. Considering they currently don’t have a reasonable replacement for Martin, but there are outfield options besides Ichiro it does seem a little odd that they were aggressive in making this deal.
They’re gambling that .322/.340/.454 line in 64 games as a Yankee last season wasn’t a small sample size fluke. It is a decent gamble because he wasn’t even a .700 OPS hitter over the past two years even with that small sample included. He hit just .277/.308/.361 in his last 320 games. At least Ichiro derives a good amount of his value from his speed and defense so the Yankees will get something for their money.
Besides the fact that they passed up other reasonable two-year offers and a gameble on a small sample size another reason this is a questionable move is that the Yankees now have an all left handed hitting outfield and are still in the market for a fourth outfielder. They would have eventually gotten one anyway, but now it is a necessity rather than a luxury.
The market for a right handed hitting outfielder is pretty thin too. They’re priced out of the Cody Ross market which leaves them with a choice between Scott Hairston, who they also look priced out on, Matt Diaz, who we don’t even know if they’re seriously considering, and Vernon Wells.
Miller is a 30-year-old reliever whom the Yankees claimed off waivers from the Oakland Athletics about a month ago. He has played in parts of three seasons in the majors and has a 2.42 ERA, a 8.1 K/9, and a 5.1 BB/9 in 63.1 innings. Teams have 10 days to claim him off waivers otherwise he’ll be assigned to Triple-A.