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Ichiro just doesn't give up in the outfield.
Yes, as one after another of the veteran outfield options ends up with other teams (Carlos Quentin to the Padres being the latest example), Red Sox options diminish.
Should Red Sox Nation be worried?
After all, one of the top items on the offseason wish list was another outfielder with some pop, preferably someone who could play right while the BoSox sorted out the Ryan Kalish/Josh Reddick situation (both are left-handed hitters, and neither sports good numbers against left-handed pitching).
Now, Reddick is gone in the Bailey deal, and Kalish is rehabbing from surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder.
It's time to seek alternatives. The suggestions to follow may not be ideal long-term solutions, but each offers a short-term benefit.
Besides, the outfield free-agent class for 2012 is particularly strong (Quentin, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton, Torii Hunter, B. J. Upton, Shane Victorino, among others), so the best solution for the Red Sox might be to mark time for a year…or at least until the trading deadline.
Here are my four favorite options, with links to each:
Matt Murton, Hanshin Tigers
Cody Ross, free agent
Marlon Byrd, Chicago Cubs
And my favorite,
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
The way Ichiro comes to Boston is as part of a deal for Felix Hernandez. (See previous slide.)
Hear me out on this one before you dismiss it.
I know that every previous offer for the right-handed starter has been rebuffed by Seattle, and he supposedly wants to finish his career there, but here’s a road map for getting a deal done.
The Red Sox & Mariners Should Do a Deal for Felix Hernandez
A key incentive for the Mariners to do such a deal is for the Red Sox to take on the last year of Ichiro's contract, which could make it easier for Seattle to sign Prince Fielder.
Ichiro had a sub-par season in 2011, he is 38 years old, and he is due $17 million for 2012, the last year of his contract. While the Mariners will be careful not to diss one of the best players in franchise history, they would welcome the chance to get out from under Ichiro's huge contract.
As a 10/5 player (10 years in MLB, five with the same team), Ichiro can't be traded without his consent. But the opportunity to win a World Series before he retires may cause him to accept a trade.
Dealing Ichiro would require Seattle to do it in a way that saved face, both for Ichiro and the team, especially since the principal owner of the Mariners is Japanese. Hiroshi Yamauchi, the largest shareholder in Nintendo Corporation, would have to be able to justify the trade.
The solution to that problem is…Daisuke Matsuzaka goes to Seattle as part of the deal.
By including Daisuke in the deal, the Red Sox could soften the blow to the large Japanese community in the Pacific Northwest. Matsuzaka is also in the final year of his contract, under which he is due $10 million.
Daisuke has started six games in Seattle and has posted an ERA of 3.05.
Yes, he is on the disabled list, but that is not an obstacle to a trade. So long as the receiving team is willing to accept a disabled player, the commissioner's office can approve the deal.
The Red Sox could include a performance clause to protect Seattle in case Matsuzaka does not come back as hoped from Tommy John surgery. If he does come back, Seattle will have gained another, younger, Japanese icon with some upside.
There are 17 million reasons for Seattle to part with Ichiro now. Also, he’s nearing the end of the road, and there are questions about his clubhouse role with a decidedly younger roster. But he still has a rocket arm, and is a superb defender. I would love to see him patrolling right field in Fenway for a year or two.
The acquisition of Bailey instead of a high-priced free agent makes it a little easier to get such a deal done money-wise.