New York Yankees News & Rumors: Should Team Re-Sign Free Agent Ichiro Suzuki?
The New York Yankees are entering a new episode in the franchise's great chapter.
The team has missed the playoffs the last two consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993 and 1994. Arguably the greatest shortstop of all-time Derek Jeter has retired, and the Boston Red Sox have been making notable additions to their roster such as Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.
Free agent ace pitcher Max Scherzer appears to be of too high of a cost, and the Yankees need help on both sides of the plate. Before the Yankees break the bank on a big name player, they could start re-signing free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
Suzuki is one of the greatest hitters in MLB history having accumulated 2,844 career hits in just 2,204 games. Because Suzuki didn't begin his career in Major League Baseball, his career statistics are lower than they appear. Suzuki did not begin MLB play until he was 27 years old for the Seattle Mariners and still holds the MLB record for most hits in a single season, 262.
Obviously, Suzuki is a Future Hall of Famer, but can he help the Yankees enough next season to take up a roster spot?
Suzuki is now 41 years old, and his numbers have been dropping. Last season, Suzuki's batting average was just .284, and he hit one home run. As low as those numbers are, Suzuki still had the highest batting average of any Yankees player. Despite the desire to sign a high-profile pitcher, the Yankees have a lot of issues on offense.
Last season, the Bronx Bombers ranked 20th in runs scored, 23rd in hits and 20th in team batting average.
Suzuki won't fix all of those problems, but he does bring veteran leadership, experience and hits. Suzuki has recorded at least 100 hits in all 14 of his years in the big leagues. Adding Suzuki would at least provide a sure reliable hitter to the plate. Without Jeter and Suzuki in the lineup, the Yankees would struggle mightily to get on base.
According to multiple reports, the Baltimore Orioles have shown interest in signing the 41-year-old Japanese outfielder. The Orioles won the American League East last season with 12 more wins than the Yankees.
The Yankees are still paying huge amounts to CC Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez, who aren't exactly reaching expectations lately. Many experts believe the Yankees are in a rebuilding transition period, especially considering one of the best players in franchise history is no longer with the team. Offering a short-term contract to Suzuki could be rewarding, but the Yankees have to make sure they don't offer too much so they can address other areas.
Suzuki will definitely test the open market, as he should. But odds are, he won't get very much from teams given his age and declining performance.
Some Yankees fans believe the team should not re-sign Suzuki and let him walk. They think that it's time to add more youth to the roster and continue the rebuilding process. Either way, the Yankees have a lot of decisions to make before their opener in April.
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