On a day filled with big trades and rumored big trades this one qualifies as the most shocking: Jack Curry of YES Network reports that the Yankees have acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Mariners for minor league pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar.
Just last week Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik insisted that Suzuki would not be traded and the Mariners wanted to re-sign the impending free agent, but according to a statement released by the team the former MVP asked for a trade “several weeks ago.”
Suzuki is in the midst of a career-worst season at age 38, hitting just .261 with a .288 on-base percentage and .353 slugging percentage, but the Yankees are obviously betting on him still have some gas left in the tank as a replacement for Brett Gardner.
Anything can happen in a two-month window and obviously Suzuki can get hot in a hurry. Or at least the Ichiro of old could get hot in a hurry. Dating back to the beginning of last season he’s hit just .268 with a .302 on-base percentage and .342 slugging percentage in 1,144 plate appearances spread over 256 games.
Mitchell was the Yankees’ 10th-round pick in 2008 and made his big-league debut in May at age 25, projecting as a potential back-of-the-rotation starter or long reliever. Farquhar has similarly modest upside as a middle reliever and two weeks ago the Yankees passed him through waivers unclaimed.
In other words, the Mariners got a pair of non-prospects for Suzuki.
UPDATE: How’s this for drama? Ichiro will be in the Yankees’ lineup tonight … against the Mariners, in Seattle.
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.