Konichiwa Ichiro: Likely Destinations

Ichiro Suzuki

It was the end of an era last July when the Mariners traded Ichiro Suzuki, the face of their franchise, and of Japanese baseball as a whole. It also looked like this might be the final sayonara to Ichiro’s career, as the perennial all-star was batting just .260 and struggling to get on base.

But instead of bombing in the Bronx, Ichiro’s bat came alive. And in 67 games with the Yanks, this career .322 hitter, hit, exactly .322. Whether it was the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium, finally playing for a contender again, or not being surrounded by the rain and Starbucks of Seattle, Ichiro revived both his career, and the free agent market for his services. At this stage of his career, Suzuki looks more concerned about chasing a ring than a paycheck. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at where he might end up:

New York Yankees – The Yankees loved the boost Suzuki gave their line-up late last season and would love to have him back…at the right price. The issue is a starting outfield with both Brett Gardner and Ichiro, two guys without a lot of pop. But it’s not like the Yanks are hurting for power, so having some speed guys who can get on base will probably work. But with an aging A-Rod and Jeter already in the lineup, is having an equally old Ichiro the best idea?

New York Mets – Yes, that “other” big apple baseball team appears ready to make a splash in free agency. After they lock up David Wright, it might be time to find that top of the order guy they missed last year after the departure of Jose Reyes. Ichiro’s style has always seemed to be a better fit in the National League, but are the Mets good enough to attract him? With the Nats and Braves looking like they’ll be the top two teams in the NL East for a while, the Mets are a longshot to be a playoff team in 2013. And if Ichiro wants to play for a non-contender, he may as well go back to Seattle.

And now, the team I think Ichiro will end up signing with:

San Francisco Giants – With Angel Pagan ready to test the free agent waters, the Giants may be in the market for an outfielder who can hit at the top of the order. And can you imagine a slap hitter like Ichiro in that big ballpark? Also, while the defending champs don’t exactly need help selling tickets, having Ichiro in a city where there are more Japanese people than possibly even Tokyo, it makes way too much sense for the Giants. So watch for them to sign Ichiro to a 1 Year – 8 Mil contract.

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Patrick O'Connor
Patrick O'Connor is an award-winning screenwriter currently focusing on feature comedies. He previously was a staff writer on the hit Disney animated show Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil. He spent 11 years as a news writer/producer at KTLA-TV  where he won two Emmy awards, four Golden Mikes and two AP Writing awards. Follow him on Twitter @thepatoconnor