The return of Ichiro Suzuki to the Seattle Mariners is official, the team announcing his signing Wednesday morning.
News of the reported one-year deal between the Mariners and Ichiro surfaced Monday, when Bob Nightengale of USA Today and the MLB Network tweeted that the two sides were “close to finalizing” a major league contract. Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Seattle later confirmed through sources that Suzuki was in agreement on a contract with thepending a physical.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted Wednesday that Suzuki’s deal is worth a base salary of $750,000, with incentives that could reach up to $2 million.
The Mariners found themselves suddenly in need of outfield depth after left fielder Ben Gamel was diagnosed with an oblique strain that will keep him out four to six weeks. Right fielder Mitch Haniger is also dealing with hand soreness believed to be tendinitis, and backup outfielder Guillermo Heredia is coming off offseason shoulder surgery.
Suzuki, 44, was a 10-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner and one-time MVP over nearly 12 seasons with the Mariners. The Mariners traded the future Hall of Famer to the New York Yankees during the 2012 season, and he settled into a backup role in recent years with the Miami Marlins.
Suzuki reached 3,000 career MLB hits during the 2016 season despite playing in Japan for nine years before joining the Mariners at the age of 27 prior to the 2001 season. He has 4,358 hits over 26 combined seasons in the MLB and Japan; MLB hit king Pete Rose amassed 4,256 hits over his career.
The one record Suzuki may end up being most remembered for is his 262 hits for the Mariners in 2004, which eclipsed George Sisler’s 257 hits in 1920 for the most in a single MLB season.
Suzuki provided one of the more memorable moments of the Mariners’ 2017 season, hitting a home run in what many thought might have been his last at-bat ever at Safeco Field. Now it may end up being just been his last at-bat at Safeco Field in a uniform other than that of the Mariners.