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Sources: Ichiro heading back to Yanks

Image: Ichiro Suzuki (© Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports)
Ichiro Suzuki batted .322 with a .794 OPS in 67 games with the Yankees last season.
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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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Ichiro Suzuki enjoyed playing for the New York Yankees so much, he will be back with them again.

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The Yankees and Ichiro were close to an agreement Wednesday, negotiating the final details of a free-agent contract, according to major league sources.

On Friday the sides were near a $13 million, two-year contract, according to an Associated Press source.

The sides still had to finalize language and the deal will be subject to a physical.

Ichiro, 39, would join two other left-handed hitters in the Yankees’ outfield, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.

The Yankees then would need a right-handed complement, presuming they do not trade Granderson, an idea the team is exploring, sources said.

The return of Ichiro would not preclude the Yankees from re-signing free agent Raul Ibanez, another left-handed hitter who likely would get most of his at-bats as a DH.

A one-year contract for Ichiro would fall in line with the free-agent deals that the Yankees have awarded this offseason to right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, lefty Andy Pettitte, closer Mariano Rivera and third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

The Yankees are trying to maintain payroll flexibility as they seek to get under the $189 million luxury-tax threshold for ’14 – a move that would save them tens of millions under the new labor agreement.

Ichiro joined the Yankees last July 23 in a trade with the Seattle Mariners. The move helped revive him offensively: After batting .261 with a .642 OPS in 95 games with the Mariners, he batted .322 with a .794 OPS in 67 games with the Yankees.

Tagged: Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki

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