Days after finding out that Brett Garnder would need elbow surgery, the Yankees completed a trade for Ichiro Suzuki. To land the 38-year-old Suzuki, the Yankees dealt prospects, D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, both of whom aren’t ranked among the team’s best players. The Yankees will be responsible for roughly $2 million of Ichiro’s remaining $6 million contract.
Make no mistake about it–Ichiro isn’t the same player that he used to be. Ichiro has posted a line of .262/.288/.353 this season which is a far cry from his career averages (.322/.366/.418). However, Ichiro has played very well on the road, posting a more respectable line of .297/.314/.402. It’s clear that Safeco Field has plagued his production, so hopefully a change of scenery will help boost his numbers. Ichiro is still a top defensive player and has a great arm, so he’ll provide depth at all outfield spots.
Last night, Ichiro started in right field, which may be a sign of things to come, but with the incumbent Nick Swisher already in place, Ichiro may start in left field. However, the Yankee left field platoon of Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones has been excellent, so don’t expect Ichiro to earn playing time based on name value. At this stage of his career, Ichiro is no longer a top of the order, everyday player. Ichiro will provide depth at all outfield spots and will give the Yankees a talented bat at the bottom of their order. Ichiro hasn’t played in the post-season since 2001, but don’t expect any rust from the future Hall of Famer.
In essence, Ichiro will provide some great outfield depth. With Brett Garnder sidelined, the Yankees needed a multi-dimensional outfielder that could spell all positions. Great players always have the ability to unlock their talents and perhaps Ichiro will feel re-motivated in New York. Ultimately, this move is very, very low risk for the Yankees and could pay off handsomely if ‘Road Ichiro’ shows up.