The New York Yankees stunned the baseball world — and, indeed, the world — Monday by acquiring Japanese icon Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners.
Ichiro became an instant sensation when he arrived in the United States in 2001, winning the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. But now the 38-year-old outfielder is likely to be a role player with the Yankees.
Most ironically, the trade occurred just prior to the start of a series between the Yankees and Mariners at Safeco Field. The potential exists for a highly emotional moment when Seattle fans see Ichiro in a New York uniform, after collecting all of his 2,533 hits as a member of the Mariners.
The deal became official around 6:30 p.m. ET Monday — or 7:30 a.m. Tuesday in Japan, meaning many fans in Ichiro’s homeland woke up to the news.
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said in a statement that Ichiro approached the team several weeks ago (through his agent, Tony Attanasio) and asked that the Mariners consider trading him. “Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop,” Lincoln said.
The Yankees sent right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar to Seattle in the trade. The Yankees will pay slightly more than $2 million of Ichiro’s salary over the remainder of this season, which is approximately $5 million. Ichiro, who is eligible for free agency after this season, has value to the Yankees because outfielder Brett Gardner is expected to be out for the year.
Ichiro has a .642 OPS in 95 games this season — the lowest mark of his career. He began his career with 10 consecutive 200-hit seasons, including a record 262 in 2004.
Check back with FOXSports.com for further updates on this developing story.