This weekend, Ichiro Suzuki’s agent made it clear that Ichiro is not close to signing anywhere and would prefer a return to the Yankees.
“They are going after pitching first which is what the Yankees normally do,” Tony Attanasio told the New York 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.”
Ichiro doesn’t perfectly fit the Yankees “big, hairy monsters” approach, but given their financial concerns for 2014, they might have to change their approach depending on what fits. If Ichiro will take a one-year deal, he’ll fit. Whether that makes him the best fit is up for some debate.
The Yankees also seem to have some interest in bringing back Raul Ibanez, and adding Ichiro and Ibanez to an outfield that already has Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson (and Chris Dickerson) would make the Yankees entirely left-handed in the outfield. That’s not a problem if Ichiro, Granderson and Ibanez can hit lefties, but that hasn’t always been the case (Gardner has usually handled lefties pretty well, but he hasn’t always been allowed to start against them). Clearly the Yankees would want some right-handed balance there.
Adding Ichiro would also give the Yankees two speed-based outfielders who don’t provide much power. That might not be a deal breaker, but it’s certainly not the Yankees usual method of roster construction.
That said, Ichiro thrived late last season. He still covers quite a bit of ground, he’s can still have an impact on the bases, and he could give the Yankees some leadoff insurance should Derek Jeter be unable to play on Opening Day. That’s to say nothing of his popularity in the clubhouse, and his veteran presence on the field.
It’s clear that Ichiro would like to come back. We’re still waiting to find out whether the Yankees want him.
Associated Press photo