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 Arizona Fall League competition came to a close on Saturday, concluding with the Peoria Javelinas’ 8-2 win over the Mesa Solar Sox for the championship title. No one stood out more than Braves’ no. 1 prospect Ronald Acuna, who took home honors as the AFL MVP after slashing .325/.414/.639 with a league-leading seven home runs and second-best 1.053 OPS in 83 at-bats.
At just 19 years old, Acuna is the youngest prospect to receive the award. He made his presence felt even before he suited up for the AFL, earning promotions to the Braves’ Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett and batting a remarkable .325/.374/.522 with 21 home runs across three levels in 2017.
Acuna was also a major factor in the Javelinas’ win on Saturday, but he wasn’t the first to make some noise. The Solar Sox got to right-hander T.J. Zeuch in the first inning, leading off with three singles and a run-scoring sac fly to get a 2-0 edge over the Javelinas. It was the only lead they’d get all afternoon and it lasted just two innings. Luis Urias snapped the shutout with a sac fly in the bottom of the second inning, and the Javelinas took the lead with a game-tying RBI single from Acuna and two-run base hit from Braves’ no. 16 prospect Alex Jackson in the third.
From then on, it was smooth sailing for Peoria. Andrew Case, Andres Munoz and Art Warren combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief, while the offense tacked on another handful of runs with Acuna’s fourth-inning two-RBI single and Michael Chavis’ eighth-inning triple. With runners at the corners and one out, the Solar Sox lifted right-hander Dakota Bacus for fellow righty Nolan Blackwood. Even he was flummoxed by Acuna, however, who grabbed hold of the first pitch he saw and returned another sac fly to center field for the Javelinas’ eighth and final run of the game.
Only 131 days left until Opening Day, folks.