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Ichiro transitions to Mariners’ front office, done playing in 2018

The future Hall of Famer will not play again in 2018, though the door is open for a return in 2019.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Mariners announced Thursday that Ichiro will transition into a front office role, effective immediately. The outfielder, who has appeared in 15 games for the Mariners this season, will assume the role of Special Assistant to the Chairman in Seattle and will not be eligible to play for the rest of the 2018 season.

Ichiro, who will turn 45 in October, is not officially retiring, his agent, John Boggs told The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. His role for 2019 has not yet been determined, though there seems to be a possibility that he could come out of retirement to play in the Mariners’ opening series against the Athletics in Tokyo next spring.

Ichiro, who signed a one-year deal to return to Seattle in early March, was 9-for-44 in 15 games for the club this year, serving as a depth option in his 18th major-league season. While his performance was not strong enough to keep him on the active roster much longer, the M’s ensured that the future Hall of Famer will remain an important member of the organization.

“We want to make sure we capture all of the value that Ichiro brings to this team off the field,” general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a statement. “This new role is a way to accomplish that. While it will evolve over time, the key is that Ichiro’s presence in our clubhouse and with our players and staff improves our opportunity to win games. That is our number-one priority and Ichiro’s number-one priority.”

Ichiro will assist with outfield play, baserunning and hitting while providing mentorship to both players and staff, according to the team.

In 18 years with the Mariners, Yankees and Marlins, Ichiro owns a lifetime .311/.355/.402 line with 117 homers and 3,089 hits. After spending nine years with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan from 1992-2000, Ichiro broke into the majors in 2001, winning Rookie of the Year and MVP honors and being named to the first of his 10 straight All-Star games.