With their pitching targets in hand and Kevin Youkilis on hold, the Yankees have turned their attention to addressing their hole in right-field, and that means getting serious with Ichiro Suzuki. The Yankees have been pursuing Ichiro fiercely for the past few days, and now pretty much all the usual sources are reporting that a deal between the two sides is imminent. No word on the contours being discussed, but it’s safe to assume the 39 year old Ichiro will only be in line for a one year deal, with a pretty steep decline in his salary to boot.
After kicking this around last night, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it. My first inclination is to be okay with it, but I do worry that I’m letting Ichiro’s surprisingly strong finish to last season cloud my estimation of what we can reasonably expect him to do in 2013. Is .322/.340/.454 over a full season a reasonable expectation for a 39 year old who hit .272/.310/.335 back in 2011? Maybe not, but it is hard to get over how good Ichiro looked down the stretch last year, and given that the opportunity cost is so low on this move, I can’t really get exercised about it in either case. If nothing else he’ll provide plus outfield defense that should be a big help to the Yankees’ pitchers, especially Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova, and his base running and contact skills will diversify the offense a bit. The biggest variable here probably isn’t even Ichiro, honestly, but how well Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter perform as the core of the offense. If those guys are up to par, Ichiro should be fine as a role player.
So yeah, I think I can live with Ichiro for one more year.