Ichiro would prefer to stay with the Yankees

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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.

Royals to sign Billy Hamilton

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LAS VEGAS — Jim Bowden reports that the Kansas City Royals are close to agreement with outfielder Billy Hamilton. He says they are “just working through bonuses and pending physical.” Hamilton was non-tendered by the Cincinnati Reds a couple of weeks ago following six seasons with the club, making him a free agent.

Hamilton is one of the fastest men to ever play the game, but he has never come around as a hitter. In his six seasons with the Reds he put up a line of .245/.298/.333 (OPS+ 70). While he has stolen 277 bases over that period, getting caught 63 times, he has never once led the league in steals, primarily because he just doesn’t get on base enough. He is an excellent center fielder, but the bat is so sub-par that even the glove and the wheels are not good enough to justify going to arbitration with him.

Perhaps a change of scenery will do him good. He will certainly bring some excitement to Kansas City. He’s a fun guy to watch play.