Ichiro to NY Yankees: 5 Reasons the Bronx Bombers Fleeced the Seattle Mariners
It's no secret that the Yankees have been looking to add an outfielder to their roster, and this afternoon they did just that in a move first reported by the YES Network's Jack Curry:
The Yankees have acquired Ichiro Suzuki for RHPs DJ Mitchell and Danny Fahrquar, a source said. Yanks also get undisclosed cash in deal.
— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) July 23, 2012
This marks the second time in seven months that the two teams have done business together, with the first being the trade that sent Michael Pineda to the Bronx and Jesus Montero to Seattle.
While some believed that the Yankees overpaid to acquire Pineda back in January, that certainly isn't the case here—Yankees GM Brian Cashman just pulled a fast one on Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik.
Not sure about that?
Here are five reasons why that's the case.
The Yankees Didn't Give Up Anything of Great Value
It's not that the Mariners got terrible players in exchange for Ichiro, because they didn't—but they didn't get anything special either, unless you consider a pair of 25-year-old right-handers out of the bullpen special.
D.J. Mitchell has started throughout the minor leagues, posting a 6-4 record with a 5.04 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 7.6 K/9 in Triple-A this season. He spent four games with the Yankees working out of the bullpen, allowing two runs and seven hits over 4.2 innings of work, walking three and striking out two.
Danny Farquhar has bounced around the American League this season, spending time in the minors with Oakland, Toronto and the Yankees. He's gone a combined 2-3 with a 3.33 ERA and 1.09 WHIP while averaging 9.8 K/9.
He appeared in three games for the Blue Jays in 2011, giving up three earned runs and four hits over two innings of work, walking two and striking out one.
Mitchell could be a back-of-the-rotation starter, but his best spot is most likely in the 'pen with Farquhar.
Neither one of these players is going to serve as a building block in Seattle, and that's what Seattle needs more than anything—more solid pieces to build around.
Ichiro Is a Big Upgrade for the Yankees on Defense
A right fielder, Ichiro can slide into the spot while Nick Swisher is out nursing a hip flexor injury. But once Swisher returns to the lineup, the 38-year-old Ichiro will have to slide over to left field, where he immediately changes the dynamic of the Yankees on defense.
While Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones have done an excellent job filling in for the injured Brett Gardner, neither one can handle the rigors of playing every day at this point in their careers, and neither possesses a phenomenal throwing arm.
Ichiro has one of the best throwing arms that the game has ever seen—one that is still incredibly powerful and accurate—and his speed allows him to cover far more ground than either Ibanez or Jones.
Ichiro Can Still Hit
There is no denying that Ichiro is on the downside of his career, and his numbers so far in 2012 only exacerbate that point. In 95 games, he's posted a .261/.288/.353 batting line with four home runs, 28 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 17 attempts—by far the worst numbers of his career.
But let's not forget that he's been playing on a putrid offense in Seattle and spending half of his time in cavernous Safeco Field. In 15 games at the new Yankee Stadium, Ichiro has posted a .333/.353/.492 batting line, far more in line with what we've become accustomed to seeing from the future Hall of Famer.
With a potent Yankees lineup behind him, expect Ichiro's numbers to jump up significantly.
The Yankees Bench Just Got Deeper
As previously mentioned, both Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez have done an excellent job platooning in left field this season for the Yankees, though that wasn't the role that the team envisioned for either of them.
When Nick Swisher returns to the lineup and Ichiro slides over to left field, both Ibanez and Jones will find themselves on the bench, rotating in and out of the DH spot as originally planned. With one of them not always in the lineup, this gives Joe Girardi another option off of the bench late in games other than Eric Chavez and Dewayne Wise.
Lengthening the Yankees bench can only result in good things.
A Preview of 2013?
Nick Swisher loves being a Yankee and the Yankees love Nick Swisher—there's no question that the man dubbed "Swish-a-licious" has become a fan favorite in the Bronx.
But he's set to become a free agent following the season, and with the Yankees set on having their payroll below the $189 million luxury tax threshold in 2014, re-signing Swisher while working out new contracts for both Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson may prove to be impossible.
There's simply no chance that Swisher would accept a one-year deal, but that may be the case with Ichiro.
If Ichiro proves that he can not only still play but can handle (and enjoys) his time in New York, there's no reason that the Yankees couldn't move to re-sign him to a one-year deal following the season, allowing them to replace Swisher in right field while maintaining payroll flexibility heading into 2014.
Taking Ichiro on a three-month test drive is definitely worth the price that the Yankees paid.