The rumored reunion of the Seattle Mariners and one of baseball’s most prolific hitters is now a done deal.
The Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki, 44, agreed to terms on a contract, the team announced Wednesday morning.
“The addition of Ichiro gives our team another versatile and athletic outfielder,” said Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto. “His incredible work ethic, preparation and focus will enhance our environment in many ways. He’s truly one of the great players in the history of the game and his unquestionable presence is a valuable addition, both on the field and in the clubhouse. We’re very glad to bring him back home.”
Details of the contract were not announced, but the agreement was expected to be a for a one-year deal.
Ichiro played the last six seasons for the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees. In recent years he has served primarily as backup outfielder and pinch-hitter. An injury to outfielder Ben Gamel could make Ichiro’s presence more valuable. A strained oblique is expected to sideline Gamel for up to six weeks.
Ichiro, who has said his goal is to play in the majors until he is 50, is the MLB active leader with 3,080 career hits. Combined with his 1,278 hit during nine season with the Orix Blue Wave in Japan’s Pacific, Ichiro is one of nine players with more than 4,000 hits as a professional. He currently ranks 21st in MLB history, 30 hits behind Hall of Famer Dave Winfield and 35 behind Alex Rodriguez.
His 27 pinch-hits last seaon were one short of John Vander Wal’s MLB record set in 1995 when he played for Colorado.
Ichiro started his MLB career in Seattle in 2001, when he helped the Mariners win 116 games and won the American League MVP, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. He and Boston’s Fred Lynn (1975) are the only Rookies of the Year to also win the MVP. He had 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons including a record 262 in 2004.
Ichiro ranks first in Mariner’s history in hits (2,533), batting average (.322), at-bats (7,858), triples (79) and stolen bases (438).