The Marlins are putting the finishing touches on a very busy offseason and are reportedly working to finalize a deal with outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
It was rumored that Miami had offered the 41-year-old a one year, $2 million deal and it looks like the final numbers will match-up with that rumor, although it sounds as though there will be a number of performance bonuses added to the pact as well.
Suzuki will serve as a fourth outfielder in Miami as the club already has perennial MVP-candidate Giancarlo Stanton and burgeoning superstars Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna in place as starters.
Suzuki has been a below-average hitter since 2011, posting a meager .275/.308/.353 batting line split between Seattle and New York.
It’s a far cry from Suzuki’s first ten years in the league when he hit .331/.376/.430, made ten All-Star teams, won the 2001 Rookie of the Year and American League Most Valuable Player awards, and earned ten-straight Gold Glove Awards.
It isn’t surprising, given Suzuki’s age and the mileage on his body, that his once-blazing speed has diminished and his top-notch defense has been slipping steadily in the outfield.
What is surprising is that his strikeout percentage has nearly doubled from where it was early in his career, while his walk percentage continues to slide in the other direction. With his other skills eroding, losing his batting eye and patience has not done Suzuki any favors.
For what it’s worth Suzuki still grades out as a decent right-fielder, so if he’s not expected to cover in center field for long periods of time, he should be serviceable.
He also continued his trend – despite losing speed – of being incredibly efficient on the bases swiping 15 bags in 18 attempts.
At this point in his career, he’s a good fit as a light-hitting fourth outfielder and veteran presence on a young ball club.
Suzuki seems fully-aware of his role at this stage in his career and it’s not hard to imagine that he’s hanging around less for a playing time or salary and more for a chance to make history.
He currently sits at 2,844 hits in his big league career; just 156 shy of the hallowed 3,000 mark.
Suzuki has fallen short of that number two seasons in a row now, so it would require a bounce-back year and an unexpected amount of playing time for him to reach the milestone this season.
If a member of the Marlins dynamic outfield trio should go down with an injury, Suzuki would have an outside chance at reaching the mark with a healthy and productive season.
He’s given no indication that he’s interested in retiring, so he’s likely to reach the mark – even if it’s not in 2015 – but it adds another level of intrigue to each of his at-bats in Miami this season.