Sources: Ichiro heading back to Yanks

New York Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki near agreement on new contract.

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

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.

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