Hot Stove: Ichiro Suzuki Willing to Play the Waiting Game with New York Yankees

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Hot Stove: Ichiro Suzuki Willing to Play the Waiting Game with New York Yankees
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Ichiro Suzuki wants to return to the New York Yankees in 2013, according to George King of the New York Post.

Suzuki’s agent, Tony Attanasio, told King:

“There has been a lot of interest [from teams], but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees. His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see.”

Suzuki, 39, seems to be a logical replacement for free-agent Nick Swisher in right field. He hit .322/.340/.454 with five homers and 27 RBI in 240 plate appearances with New York after a July 24 trade from the Seattle Mariners. That was a vast improvement from the .261/.288/.353 he had posted in 423 plate appearances with the Mariners.

Suzuki was also one of the few Yankees to show signs of life at the plate during the postseason. The 10-time All-Star was 11-for-40 in nine playoff games, with a homer and five RBI. He also hit a pair of doubles and scored three runs.

Suzuki played mostly in left field after the trade, the first time he had played the position since coming to the major leagues from Japan in 2001. Most of his major league career has been spent in right field, however, and he is a 10-time Gold Glove winner at that position.

If Suzuki is to return to the Yankees, he will make considerably less than the $17 million he was paid in 2012. Any offer is also likely to be a one-year deal, in keeping with the organization’s stated goal of reducing payroll to less than $189 million in 2014.

Suzuki is waiting while the Yankees focus on their pitching, specifically 40-something free agents Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

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B/R featured columnist Doug Rush discussed the Pettitte situation in a piece posted on Monday, which speculated Pettitte might make his decision about 2013 this week. That has not happened as of yet. Rivera, meanwhile, told the Yankees earlier this month that he wants to come back in 2013.

Suzuki could add a lot to the Yankee lineup in 2013. Even at his age, he’s still got speed on the bases and could team with Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner to provide a solid 9-1-2 group of table-setters in the order.

According to King, the Yankees have spoken to Casey Close, the agent for free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston, and are not averse to the idea of bringing back playoff hero Raul Ibanez on a one-year deal.

Hairston, 32, spent the last two seasons with the New York Mets and hit .263/.299/.504 with 20 homers and 57 RBI in 398 plate appearances in 2012. He can play all three outfield positions and has also played a bit of second base in his nine-year career.

Ibanez, 40, would like to return to the Bronx. He hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 homers and 62 RBI in 425 plate appearances last season for the Yankees. In the playoffs, he became the first player in major league history to hit three home runs in the ninth inning or later in a single postseason.

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