USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.
I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.
Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.
Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?
The Giants made several roster moves on Saturday, most notably acquiring Twins outfielder Michael Reed in exchange for outfielder John Andreoli and cash considerations. The swap allowed the Twins to clear some space on their 40-man roster for more pitching depth, while the Giants designated lefty reliever Steven Okert for assignment in order to make room for Reed.
Reed, 26, split the majority of his 2018 season at Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett, where he hit a combined .342/.453/.520 with 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 13 chances), and a .972 OPS across 404 plate appearances. He made the most of his brief appearance with the Braves, going 2-for-7 with a pair of base hits and three strikeouts, but still has yet to see more than eight games in the majors in any season to date.
Andreoli, 28, debuted with the Mariners in 2018. While he made a decent showing in Triple-A Tacoma, slashing .287/.397/.401 with three homers and a .798 OPS, he struggled to stay above the Mendoza Line in back-to-back MLB stints with Seattle and Baltimore.
In an additional move on Saturday, the Giants also acquired outfielder Mike Yastrzemski in a trade with the Orioles. Both Reed and Yastrzemski will give the club some much-needed center field depth after they released veteran outfielder Cameron Maybin on Friday.