Ten-time All Star free agent Ichiro Suzuki has agreed to join the Miami Marlins this season, according to multiple reports.
Ichiro, who will enter the season at 41 years of age and is 157 hits away from his 3,000th hit, is being brought in as depth and insurance to a thin outfield corps.
The contract, a reported, one-year $2 million deal, could be extended after this season if the Marlins want to be the team Ichiro reaches the 3,000th hit with, though a 2016 extension probably won't be in the cards.
But more pressingly, Ichiro brings a well-established, albeit older, left-handed bat to the Marlins lineup. He is expected to hit in front of Giancarlo Stanton from time to time, setting things up for the slugger with his savvy hitting and speed. He could also serve as a viable pinch-hitting option for the Fish.
More than anything, the former AL MVP and Rookie of the Year will be providing depth for the Marlins' young core of outfielders of Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich.
As a guy twice the age of most of his teammates, Ichiro has clearly lost a step. With the Yankees last season, he finished the year with a .284 average and a .324 on-base percentage. His extra-base numbers also dipped significantly, and he's clearly not the same guy who dazzled Seattle Mariners fans when he debuted in the MLB in 2001.
When he first came to the United States after being a star in the Japanese league, Ichiro scorched the baseball world as a Mariner, collecting 242 hits his first season and stealing 56 bases en route to Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player awards.
With the Yankees last year, Ichiro stole 15 bases.
Still, Ichiro is a solid veteran presence who can still get you a hit or two when you need it or when one of the other outfielders needs a day off.
And the Marlins have made it clear that he'll be a fourth outfield option or a pinch-hitting threat whenever the situation arises.
Ichiro puts ball in play which should make him an interesting pinch-hit option #Marlins— Joe Frisaro (@JoeFrisaro) January 23, 2015
Ichiro needs 157 hits to reach 3,000. So 2016 will be the year he'll try to hit that mark. If the Marlins want that to be in a Miami uniform, they're going to have to extend another offer. But the chances of that are not good.
Ichiro deal with #Marlins unlikely to include option. If he gets close to 3,000 hits (156 away) he would be more enticing as FA next winter.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 23, 2015
Ichiro recorded 136 hits in 2013.