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Could the Yankees find a match for Ichiro Suzuki in the Phillies?

Mar 9, 2014, 11:30 PM EDT

ichiro getty Getty Images

ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted earlier that Ichiro Suzuki appears to be the odd man out in the Yankees’ outfield and adds that the Phillies could use outfield help. The Yankees, of course, will have recent free agent additions Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran in center and right, respectively, and Brett Gardner in left. Alfonso Soriano would back up in either corner while Gardner can move back to center in a pinch.

The Phillies don’t have a starting spot for Ichiro, but could put him on the bench. GM Ruben Amaro said during the off-season that he prefers to have a left-handed hitting outfielder capable of playing center field, but those were scarce throughout the off-season. He did add Bobby Abreu, but outside of drawing a few walks, he has had a disappointing spring to date, hitting just .111 in 18 at-bats.

That being said, there doesn’t seem to be a strong match considering that the Phillies are right up against the $189 million luxury tax when everything is factored in. The Yankees would have to pay just about the entirety of his $6.5 million salary or take back an equally-expensive player in return, such as reliever Mike Adams ($7 million) who is recovering from a torn rotator cuff and two labrum tears.

The Phillies adding the 40-year-old to their roster, though, would make for a fresh source of age-related jokes at their expense.

  1. tfbuckfutter - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:44 PM

    Ichiro + Byrd = Playoffs

    Bank on it.

    • jerze2387 - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:02 AM

      Ichiro + byrd + Abreu + Rollins + Aj burnett + Chase utley + Cliff lee = Playoffs. In 2001.

      • toodrunktotastethischicken - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:38 AM

        Eh a better joke would’ve been the 2006 All Star team.

      • 666ghosthunter666 - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:32 AM

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      • gmfw7 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:15 AM

        chase wasn’t on the mlb roster in 2001 and cliff lee wasn’t in the majors yet neither. try again though

  2. gothapotamus90210 - Mar 9, 2014 at 11:55 PM

    Acquiring Ichiro would effectively mean a platoon with Marlon Byrd. While it’s questionable if Byrd can replicate his 2013 performance, you have to assume the Phillies are banking on similar production given the 2/16 contract they gave him

    And as for contract swapping, Adams needs to be an integral part of the Phils’ bullpen this year if they have any shot at being a contender. He’s a huge question mark right now – but I think a productive Adams means more than a 4th OFer to them. They can’t look at him as a salary offset to get a platoon OFer (at best).

    • ematusko - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Only the Phillies would add a guy for $8 million/year, like Byrd, and then platoon him. Their ineptitude knows no bounds.

    • bolweevils2 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:12 PM

      I don’t know that acquiring Ichiro would automatically mean they were going to platoon him with anyone. He might just be a true 4th outfielder that only plays here and there.

      (Damn that “Report Comment” button! I hit it again when just intending to to reply. Sorry.)

  3. chew1985 - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:42 AM

    Ichiro is not old enough to be a Phillie.

    • rythestunner - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM

      I realize it was a joke, but Ichiro would become the oldest member of the Phillies.

  4. sparty0n - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:20 AM

    It would be great to see him in a Tigers uni on opening day!

  5. 666ghosthunter666 - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:31 AM

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  6. uyf1950 - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:49 AM

    I’m not sure if it’s the Phillies he (Ichiro) winds up with but I do think he will be gone from the Yankees before ST ends.

  7. baberuthslegs - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    The game needs Ichiro. He’s been so remarkable over the years. I hope someone keeps him on their rosters a couple of more years so he can get to 3000 MLB hits.

  8. shaggylocks - Mar 10, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    I keep thinking that the Phillies could really use a veteran presence.

  9. johnnysoda - Mar 10, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    So you’d move him from one team without a starting spot for him to another team without a starting spot for him? Great!

    As a Yankee fan, I hope they keep him.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:50 AM

      Cashman should ask for Dom Brown. Afterall, that kid is practically in diapers. Phillies have no need for that “wet behind the ears” kind of player, and trading him would open up a spot for Ichiro.

    • bostonboresme - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:46 PM

      He’s still an exceptional athlete. I like his speed, and he can substitute in for Soriano or Beltran in late game situations.

  10. greymares - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    This Philly fan says Ichi…NO NO NO.

  11. pastabelly - Mar 10, 2014 at 8:18 AM

    If Amaro traded for him, he’s probably try to get him to sign a long term extension.

  12. js20011041 - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    Do the Phillies even have room for him? I’m assuming that they’re committed to Brown, Revere, and Byrd as the starters. They’ve got Ruf and Mayberry as reserves. I could understand going after a LH option for the bench, but Ichiro’s not that guy. He’s a 40 year old that had a sub .700 OPS last year. He doesn’t have the power that you’d like from a pinch hitting option and is even he a player who would accept not playing every day? Amaro seems to have a fetish for collecting veterans. The sooner they dump him and commit to a rebuild of some kind, the better off this organization will be.

  13. 18thstreet - Mar 10, 2014 at 9:56 AM

    I think the Yankees could use Ichiro for depth. If Beltran has to miss a significant amount of time, putting Soriano in right field does not seem like an appealing option. Heck, if probably makes sense to give Beltran one game off a week even while he’s healthy.

    The Yankees have 13 games in the season’s first 13 days, including two days games after a night game (and two day games after a day game, for what that’s worth). After that, they have the next three Mondays off.

    It looks to me like there’s fewer off days built into the schedule for every team this year. As a fan, I like it. (More baseball!) But it could make a difference on the field, given the demands on the older players.

    • js20011041 - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM

      Yes and no. I agree that they’re old and depth is likely to be a concern. But I don’t think Soriano is terrible compared to their other options. I’m guessing that they’ll rotate Soriano, Beltran, and Jeter through the DH spot this year to keep them fresh. As far as outfield depth is concerned, I’m not sure that Ichiro is better than Zoilo Almonte at this point. He’s 40 and he was absolutely terrible last year. I think he’s finished.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Based on Ichiro being the 5th outfielder which is what he is he really isn’t a better alternative than Almonte. Besides there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that if the Yankees/Cashman knew prior to signing Ichiro to a 2 year deal in the winter of 2012 that they would have Ellsbury / Gardner / Beltran and Soriano under contract for this the 2014 season they would have only signed him for the 2013 season and not for 2014.

      • 18thstreet - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:49 AM

        Long-time Yankee-hater here, but I’m officially rooting for Zoilo Almonte, who I never heard of before today. I’m pretty sure he’s got the best name in professional baseball.

      • spudchukar - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        The best move the Yankees could make is to burn any glove Soriano owns that isn’t a corner outfielders.

    • uyf1950 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      There are fewer days off to start the season this year then most of the other years. Having said that the Yankees have several prospects that at this stage of their careers are mirror image of what Ichiro is now, Zoilo Almonte is just one example and would probably be the 1st call up when and if Ichiro gets traded.

      There really is no reason to keep Ichiro around if the opportunity came to moving him to another team. Plus moving Ichiro to another team especially for a player that the Yankees wouldn’t necessarily have to put on the 40 man roster would allow the Yankees to free up a spot there. Just by way of an example of that. Yangervis Solarte is having a heck of a spring for the Yankees IF that were to continue he could replace Ichiro on the 40 man roster.

      The point I’m trying to make is that the Yankees could make better use of that roster spot then Ichiro.

      • toodrunktotastethischicken - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:32 AM

        I’m playing armchair GM here, but what about Mike Adams(expected back Mid April) and Kevin Fransden for Ichiro and one of Nuno/Warren? The Yanks get some infield insurance in Fransden and some late inning help in Adams in a couple weeks in exchange for RAJ’s “much needed left handed bat” in Ichiro and added pitching depth in Nuno/Warren due to the Hamels injury debacle.

      • uyf1950 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        @ toodrunkto…., I’m not sure the Yankees are interested in trading any of their starting pitching until they know for sure what they can expect from Pineda this season and they may not know that for another 30 or so days maybe longer.

        As for the Yankees and bullpen help. I don’t think their need is nearly a great as some might think. My best guess is the Yankees will break ST with something along these lines: In no particular order: Robertson, Thornton, Kelley, Warren and 2 of Claiborne / Betances / Cabral and lastly Phelps if he doesn’t make the starting rotation. Of course having extra options for the bullpen like Adams wouldn’t and can’t hurt I’m just not sure it’s that high of a priority at this point.

    • bostonboresme - Mar 10, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      Soriano was better than advertised in the outfield last year.

  14. randygnyc - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Ichiro doesn’t deserve that cesspool.

  15. steveinphilly - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    This could be the final piece of the puzzle for the 2014 Phightins!

    Also, it could be the excuse that Ruin needs to send Darrin Ruf back to Lehiugh Valley for a little more seasoning.

    • js20011041 - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Ruf is 27. How much more seasoning does he need to be part time player and pinch hitter?

      • steveinphilly - Mar 10, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        Darrin Ruf doesn’t “produce”. Yeah, he and Chase Utley were by far the best two Phillies after the All-Star break last year according to you “stats” guys, but c’mon, let’s get real. He had zero stolen bases, he walks way too much, and he has a bad baseball body to boot. He’s no John Mayberry, Jr.

        There’s a reason I’m the GM and you’re not. It’s back to AAA for Ruf.

        Love,
        Ruben

      • bostonboresme - Mar 11, 2014 at 12:25 AM

        Since when is walking frequently a problem? Shall we disregard OBP?

  16. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 10, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    I don’t think the Yankees should be desperate to get rid of him, but it would sure be nice if they could get something decent in return. Even if it was a similarly priced veteran, but at a position of need (bullpen, infield).

    Johnson is capable in the OF, so he could back up RF if there were an acceptable backup for 3B. I seem to recall Canzler mentioned as a guy who could play all four corners. That seems like what the Yankees need as currently constructed,.

    • bolweevils2 - Mar 10, 2014 at 3:16 PM

      Unless another bad contract in return is something decent, I don’t see that happening.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:30 PM

        A bad contract at a position of need would be better. The Yankees have plenty of guys right now who can do what Ichiro will be asked to do. The Brewers don’t need Ichiro, but a guy like Juan Francisco might make sense (1B/3B with a little power). I have not looked up the stats so I don’t know if that specifically would be possible for either side, but that kind of player would make more sense on the Yankees roster than Ichiro in 2014

  17. genericcommenter - Mar 10, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Ichiro is a pinch-runner and defensive replacement at this point in his career. I understand the sentiment and how some people want to see him get 3000 MLB hits, but it’s going to take a team willing to give up over 1000 below-avg PAs to get him there.

    • genericcommenter - Mar 11, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      I don’t see how anyone with an IQ over room temperature could disagree with anything in my comment.

  18. savvybynature - Mar 10, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    Seems like he would be a good mentor/platoon partner for Billy Hamilton in Cincinnati, no?
    It wouldn’t be a straight platoon of course as I’d think Hamilton would get the vast majority of starts to develop, but they could use some depth behind him in center and experience and professionalism still counts for something I think, especially when it comes to depth players.

  19. dolphanphan - Mar 10, 2014 at 4:06 PM

    Yankees would be far better off getting rid of Ellsbury already or Gardner. Ichiro thrives on consistency, and that’s all he needs to prosper. Girardi simply needs to say, “Ichiro, you are playing right field and leading off for the next 162 games. Period.” And watch the results pour in. Instead, Girardi mismanaged the whole team last year, including having Ichiro bat 7th one day, then 8th the next. Then he got benched in favor of Ben Francisco. Then he hit 6th. Even a .340 hitter like Ichiro would have bad because of that kind of management.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 10, 2014 at 5:05 PM

      Ichiro will either learn to adjust to life as a part-timer, or be out of the game entirely very soon.

      He had all of the consistency in the world his last few seasons in Seattle, and he got 520 ABs last year in NY. He is what he is at this point, and no single lineup spot will change that.

  20. genericcommenter - Mar 11, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    Somebody here really has some irrational love for a guy with no power who is an automatic out over 70% of the time he comes to the plate. Ichiro WAS a great player. Now he’s a good fielder and base runner.

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