According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have a deal finished with Ichiro Suzuki, a deal that will pay Ichiro $13 million over two years. On the one hand, it’s nice that the Yankees have a right fielder and now pretty much just have to focus on finding a DH and some bench players, but on the other hand I honestly can’t say that I like the contract or can really see the upside in guaranteeing Ichiro two years.
On it’s own terms, the deal is kind of a mixed bag. I’m certainly not a big fan of giving two guaranteed years to a 38 year old no-power corner outfielder who was pretty bad at the plate for most of the last two seasons, even if he did return to his career norm after August 1st. But on this market it would seem to be a fair price, and reports are that Philadelphia and San Francisco both had richer two year offers in front of Ichiro, so this isn’t some sort of aggressive overpayment by the Yankees.
My biggest problem with the contract, however, is how it compares to the non-interest in Russell Martin. You’ll notice that Ichiro’s contract is only slightly smaller than the one the Yankees wouldn’t match for Martin, even though the Yankees need a starting catcher and Martin is probably about as valuable as Ichiro, and certainly younger. But given the going rate for outfielders on the free agent market and the fact that the Yankees don’t have enough viable bodies in their farm system right now to reasonably expect to add two of them before 2014, this move probably does help them get under the $189 million threshold before next season, especially if they’re willing to run Francisco Cervelli/Austin Romine out behind the plate.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe Randy Levine is about due to tell us that the austerity budget is about making the Yankees “smarter” and “more efficient.”