The market has clearly played itself to the point that Ichiro Suzuki is the Yankees best option for right field. Now the decision seems to hinge on what kind of contract to give him: One year, one year with an option, or two years?
Joel Sherman wrote this morning that the Yankees are considering a two-year deal largely because they’re intrigued by the idea of Ichiro reaching 3,000 hits as a Yankee. It could be a terrific marketing opportunity, a way to tap into the Japanese market with an iconic player, and based on last season’s jersey sales alone, it’s clear that Ichiro is still a potent money-maker. If this were strictly about spending money to make money, why not go for it?
But under the new financial restrictions, this isn’t all about spending money to make money. Taking a chance on Ichiro’s 3,000th hit — and going after the revenue it would create — would make it even harder to fit the Yankees payroll beneath the $189-million threshold next winter. The rules are different now, and the Yankees have been careful this winter to sign players with the new restrictions in mind. Chasing a money-making opportunity (especially one that’s a bit of a long shot) doesn’t seem to fit with anything else the Yankees have done this offseason.
Would Ichiro’s 3,000th hit generate enough revenue to make it worth breaking the $189-million ceiling in 2014? I can’t imagine that it would, and if it wouldn’t, I can’t imagine that it would be worth further limiting the team’s options going forward.