The Yankees are close to bringing back Ichiro Suzuki

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We saw a premature report out of Japan late last month, but it appears that Ichiro Suzuki will indeed be back with the Yankees next season.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Yankees are “moving closer” to an agreement with Ichiro and that a deal is expected to be done within the next few days. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported yesterday that the Yankees were “showing strong interest” in re-signing him and quoted a source who said that a deal “will happen.”

No word yet on the terms being discussed, but it’s a good bet he’ll see a sharp drop in salary from the $17 million he made last season. The 39-year-old outfielder batted .322/.340/.454 with five home runs, 27 RBI and a .794 OPS in 67 games after being acquired from the Mariners in July.

Assuming the deal gets done, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman will likely look for a right-handed bat to mix in with lefty bats Ichiro, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson. Scott Hairston, who socked a career-high 20 homers this past season with the Mets, has been mentioned as a possibility.

Report: MLB likely to unilaterally implement pace of play changes

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association concerning pace of play changes have stalled, which makes it more likely that commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements the changes he seeks. Those changes include a pitch clock and a restriction on catcher mound visits.

Manfred said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”

The players have made several suggestions aimed at reducing the length of games, such as amending replay review rules, strictly monitoring down time between innings, and bringing back bullpen carts.

It is believed that MLB is proposing a pitch clock of 20 seconds. If a pitcher takes too long between pitches, he will have a ball added to the count. If the hitter takes too long, then he will have a strike added to the count.