The Yankees have acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners in exchange for pitching prospects D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. The Mariners are also paying approximately $4.5 million of the $6.7 million remaining on Ichiro’s contract, leaving the Yankees responsible for a fairly modest $2.25 million.
According to Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln, Ichiro had approached the club requesting a trade, reasoning that the Mariners are building for the future and it was best for the team if younger players were given more playing time.
Ichiro has also become a shell of his former self, posting a .289 wOBA last season and a .281 wOBA this year, both of which rank near the league’s bottom. Since the start of last season, only Cliff Pennington, Casey McGehee and Gordon Beckham have produced lower wOBAs. Trading him must have been very difficult, but it was much easier to justify, and downright responsible, from a production standpoint.
While Safeco Field clearly has a hand in his decline, he is simply nowhere near the same player fans are accustomed to seeing. He isn’t an everyday player anymore, but it would have been tough for the Mariners to play him sporadically given his importance to the team and the community. The Yankees don’t need him to be anything more than a part-time platoon player to make this deal work out, and for Ichiro, the realization that his days as a full-time starter are done is likely easier to stomach on a playoff contender.
While it’s somewhat shocking that the Mariners dealt their franchise player — especially since most signs pointed towards his retention next season — what he could potentially provide his new club is rather intriguing. In the appropriate role and under the right circumstances, he could really benefit the Yankees down the stretch.
Simply by not playing the majority of his games at Safeco Field, which has absolutely crushed BABIP and offense in general this season, Ichiro figures to improve his seasonal line. If his numbers at the plate with the Yankees resemble his current road numbers, and his terrific fielding persists, the Yankees won’t think twice about the money they’ll spend or the prospects they dealt. If they just acquired “Road” Ichiro, this is a darned good deal that bolsters depth in an important area.