Mariners GM expects to re-sign impending free agent Ichiro Suzuki despite declining production

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Ichiro Suzuki is a 38-year-old impending free agent having the worst season of his brilliant career, hitting .258 with a .286 on-base percentage and .345 slugging percentage, but Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik made it very clear that he has no plans to trade the outfielder and in fact expects to re-sign him for next season.

“He’s going to be a Mariner,” Zduriencik told Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com. “We intend to keep him. I’m telling you, he’s going to be a Mariner. He’s a big part of this team. He’s a franchise player here, and we have phenomenal respect for him.”

Suzuki presumably feels the same way about wanting to remain in Seattle, but he turns 39 in October and it’ll be interesting to see if he’s willing to take a significant pay cut from his current $17 million salary. Not only isn’t he worth anywhere near that kind of money at this point, Suzuki has declined to the point that he’s one of the worst hitters in the league.

Dating back to the beginning of last season he’s hit .267 with a .301 on-base percentage and .339 slugging percentage in 249 games, producing a .640 OPS that ranks 125th out of the 129 players to appear in at least 200 games during that time.

It’s tough to blame the Mariners for not wanting to cut ties with Suzuki, but the only way that makes any kind of objective, on-field sense for them is if he takes a massive pay cut to finish his career in Seattle.

Report: Twins sign Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal

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The Twins have reportedly signed free agent shortstop Erick Aybar to a minor-league deal, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported Friday. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman adds that the deal comes with a potential $1.25 million if Aybar reaches the majors, with additional incentives based on plate appearances. He’ll be able to opt out on March 27. The team has yet to confirm the signing.

Aybar, 34, is now four years removed from his career year in 2014. He’s been in a state of steady decline since then, slashing just .234/.300/.348 with seven home runs and 11 stolen bases over 370 plate appearances for the Padres in 2017. His poor performance wasn’t helped by a fractured left foot, either, which cost him almost six weeks on the disabled list.

Still, the Twins see something promising in the veteran infielder, and reportedly intend to use him as another utility option this spring. Per Neal, Aybar will join fellow backup infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza and may even (temporarily) take over for Miguel Sano at third base if Sano isn’t able to shape up for the role by Opening Day.