Ichiro Suzuki hasn’t gotten a job this offseason. That isn’t all that surprising, given that he’s now 44 and hit just .255/.318/.332 in part-time duty with the Miami Marlins. And hell, he hasn’t exactly been productive in recent years. In 2016, he hit .291/.354/.376 and produced a 100 wRC+, the one season in his last seven during which he’s posted a wRC+ above 90.
But Ichiro is still a legend and he deserves to go out on his own terms, instead of talking about how he wants to play until he’s 50 and not even getting a sniff from major league teams. But on Monday, the Seattle Mariners, Ichiro’s first and lengthiest employer in MLB, were rumored to be nearing an agreement on a one-year major league deal with the 2001 AL Rookie of the Year and MVP.
Ichiro Suzuki is getting close to finalizing one year major league deal with #Mariners
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) March 5, 2018
The #Mariners are working to finalize an agreement with Ichiro Suzuki, as @BNightengale reported. It would be a big-league deal, and could be completed later today or early tomorrow. Things have heated up over the last day or two with Ben Gamels’ oblique injury.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) March 5, 2018
As we’ve mentioned, Ichiro’s not the same player he was during his early years with the Mariners, when he won those two significant awards during his rookie year, made ten straight All-Star teams, won ten Gold Gloves in a row, and finished ten consecutive seasons with at least a .300 batting average and 200 hits. But Seattle could use a fourth or fifth outfielder, and bringing back a legend who has an outside shot of cracking the top 20 on the all-time hits list this season would be a treat for fans desperate for *something* to care about, given that the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since Ichiro’s first year in the majors.
Frankly, Ichiro’s career should end in Seattle, not any other major league city. He had his best years with the Mariners, broke into Major League Baseball with the Mariners, and will go into the Hall of Fame with that S and compass on his cap. He shouldn’t have to bounce around the majors over his last years in the game going from team to team trying to get a job. It won’t damage his reputation or put a blemish on his career, but I would just feel worse seeing Ichiro in like, Orioles camp on a minor league deal. It would just feel weird, and a baseball legend like Ichiro doesn’t deserve to go out like that.