Ichiro is drawing interest in free agency following a resurgent final two months of the season, but his agent, Tony Attanasio, told George A. King III of the New York Post that the veteran outfielder would like to stay with the Yankees. In fact, he’s willing to wait out contract talks with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera if need be.
“They are going after pitching first which is what the Yankees normally do,’’ Tony Attanasio, Ichiro’s well-respected agent, said yesterday. “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.’’
Nick Swisher is also a free agent, so the Yankees have a void in right field at the moment, but hard to see them committing to Ichiro and Brett Gardner as full-time players next season. While it would give them one of the best defensive outfields in the majors, they will likely want some more punch in their lineup. With that in mind, King hears that the Yankees have talked with Scott Hairston’s agent and aren’t against bringing back Raul Ibanez.
Ichiro, 39, batted .322 with five home runs and a .794 OPS in 67 games after coming over from the Mariners in July. Still, he would need to take a steep pay cut from the $17 million he made this past season in order to remain with the Bombers.
The Mets told Jay Bruce that the club plans on having him open the season as the everyday right fielder, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. This comes as no surprise after the Mets failed to get any bites after dangling Bruce as a trade chip. The Mets reportedly wanted a pair of prospects in exchange for Bruce.
With Bruce in right, Yoenis Cespedes back in left, and Curtis Granderson in center, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out. He’ll either warm the bench or head back to Triple-A Las Vegas for regular at-bats.
Bruce, who turns 30 years old in April, had a rough final two months of the 2016 season after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. He hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 plate appearances. Bruce, apparently, wanted to go anywhere but in New York.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.
The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.