The Seattle Mariners are in agreement with veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on a minor-league contract that includes an invite to the team’s major league spring training camp, according to a league source.
Source confirms @jonbecker_ report: The Seattle #Mariners have re-signed veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league contract with an invite spring training with the hopes that he can play in the team's opening series in Japan (and beyond that series, too).— Andersen Pickard (@andersenreports) January 23, 2019
Mononymously known as “Ichiro,” the 45-year old has spent time with three different major-league clubs. He started his career with the Mariners in 2001 after signing with them as an international free agent, and posted mind-boggling numbers in his first ten big-league seasons with Seattle. In 2001, he played in 157 games, slashing an amazing .350/.381/.457 with 69 runs batted in on 242 hits, while walking just 30 times and striking out 53. (He also stole a league-leading 56 bases that year, and a whopping 509 in his entire career.) That season, he was an All-Star, Gold Glove winner and Silver Slugger. However, his biggest honors that year came when he was crowned the rookie of the year and the most valuable player.
There are a long list of amazing statistics for the future Hall of Famer, but two stand out among the rest: Ichiro Suzuki has never been assigned to the minor leagues, and has never played in a minor league game. He has also been on the disabled list just once through his 2,651-game career: in April 2009, he had a 15-day stint on the DL
Over the course of 10 seasons from 2001 to 2010, Ichiro was a 10-time Gold Glove award winner, and also earned the Silver Slugger award twice. Meanwhile, he finished in the Top 25 for MVP voting nine times over those ten seasons, while appearing in the All-Star game in all of those ten campaigns.
His 2004 season stood out as one of his best. He led the league with a .372 batting average, while getting on base in 41.4% of his at bats, an amazing total. He finished with a batting average above .300 in every single season between 2001 and 2010 before dropping into the upper .200s in 2011. Other amazing seasons in Ichiro’s career include his 2005, 2010, and 2012 seasons when he played in all 162 of his team’s regular season games.
In 2012, Ichiro was traded to the New York Yankees in exchange for Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell. He stayed with New York through 2014 before latching on with the Miami Marlins for the 2015 season, and didn’t leave southern Florida until the end of the 2017 campaign. In 2018, he returned to Seattle and played in 18 regular season games before Ichiro and the Mariners agreed to part ways, but only so he could transition into a front office role.
However, Ichiro is returning to the baseball field to play baseball once again. His new contract comes with an invite to major league spring training, where he will prove he is in shape and will most certainly get a spot on the big league roster so he can play in the Mariners’ opening series at the Tokyo Dome in his native country of Japan on March 20th and 21st.
Whether or not Ichiro will remain on the roster following their overseas trip remains to be seen. The Mariners plan to evaluate Ichiro during spring training like any average baseball player would be evaluated, even though he is one of the greatest players of the 21st century. If he impresses, you can expect to see him patrolling the outfield at what is now called T-Mobile Park (but is best recalled as Safeco Field). If not, he is expected to return to a front office or coaching role with the organization.
Either way, following his progress throughout the spring will be exciting, even if it means the end of a historical career for one of baseball’s most memorable players.