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Mariners sign Ichiro to minor league deal

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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?

Tigers sign Austin Romine to one-year, $4.1 million deal

Austin Romine
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The Tigers and free agent catcher Austin Romine have agreed to a one-year contract, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports. WFAN’s Sweeny Murti specifies that the deal is for $4.1 million.

Romine, 31, has been in the league for eight seasons, all with the Yankees. Across 1,116 trips to the plate, he has hit .239/.281/.366. However, Romine is well-regarded for his defense and game-calling abilities.

Romine will slot in as the full-time catcher for the rebuilding Tigers. They’ll have Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner behind him.