Trade Review: Should Ichiro Have Been Dealt From The Mariners Sooner?
Ichiro was looking like he was going to spend his whole career with the Mariners and then suddenly he was gone, shipped across the country.
Ichiro: cultural icon, thrower of things from Star Wars, a man with an interesting batting stance, and one of the all-time greatest Mariners.
Ichiro ranks in the top 5 in Mariners history in career WAR, batting average, at-bats, games played, runs scored, hits, total bases, doubles, triples, RBI, walks, and stolen bases.
So basically, he leads the organization in every offensive category, cementing his place as one of the all-time Mariners greats.
So why was one of the greatest Mariners of all time be traded for two rather unknown prospects?
One of the biggest reasons was Ichiro’s massive contract. During the 2012 season, Ichiro was 38 keep in mind and was making $17 million to be a leadoff hitter.
Having a leadoff hitter is great, but if you don’t have anybody in the lineup who can drive him in a great leadoff hitter is pretty much useless.
We saw Ichiro put in the 3 spot in the lineup at times but it never seemed to stick for very long and he would end up going back to the leadoff spot.
Another reason he was traded -as I alluded to earlier- was his age. Ichiro had always kept himself in great shape but at the time nobody really knew how much longer he could keep it up.
Ichiro had shown signs of decline in 2011 -the season before he was traded. During that campaign, it was the first time that Ichiro had a batting average below .300 in his 11-year career with the Mariners.
His on-base percentage and slugging percentage both dropped by more than 40 points. Ichiro’s WAR also dropped below 3 for the first time in his career, it was a .6.
Also, his RAA (the number of runs a player is better than the average) was a -18, Ichiro never had an RAA lower than 10 before that.
We wish we didn’t have to remember how this mighty man had fallen, but it will always be in our minds.
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To put it lightly, the Mariners were not a good baseball team around during this stretch and it was time to rebuild.
Which raises the question, should Ichiro have been traded earlier?
The Mariners had not made the playoffs since Ichiro’s rookie year in 2001.
On July 23, 2012, an era ended. Ichiro was shipped to the New York Yankees for Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell.
The funny part is that the Yankees were set to play the Mariners that night a few hours after the trade went down. Ichiro played against the Mariners the same night he was traded.
It was a sad night at Safeco Field. Mariners fans had lost one of their most beloved sons.
The Mariners lost to the Yankees that night 4-1. The Mariners starting right fielder that night, Carlos Peguero.
The Yankees had 4 former Mariners play for them that night, Alex Rodriguez, Raul Ibanez, Ichiro, and Rafael Soriano.
Ichiro finished out the season with the Yankees in 2012 playing in 67 games while hitting .322 helping the Yankees reach the Postseason that year.
Ichiro hit .275 in 9 games that Postseason, as the Yankees lost in the ALCS.
In his 2.5 years in New York Ichiro hit .281 with a 2.8 WAR and a -15 RAA.
The Mariners received Danny Farquhar who reached the majors a year later in 2013 and pitched 3 years for the M’s.
During those 3 years, Farquhar appeared in 155 games all in relief, recording 18 saves and a 3.85 ERA before being traded away last off-season.
D.J. Mitchell never reached the majors with Seattle. He pitched in 9 games for AAA affiliate Tacoma including parts of the 2013 season before ending up in the Mets organization. Since 2014, Mitchell has pitched in independent ball.
None of the players involved in this trade are currently on the teams they were traded to in this swap.
So which team won this trade?
It would have to be the Yankees, they made it to the postseason, making Ichiro seem to be a solid pick up for them around the deadline. And Ichiro was more than serviceable during the rest of his time in New York.
Danny Farquhar did some good things as a Mariner. His 16 saves in 2013 had people thinking he could be a future closer for the Seattle but that never materialized.
Even mediocre Ichiro still beats out Farquhar.
All-in-all, Did Ichiro look strange in pinstripes? Yes.
And, did Ichiro look strange wearing 31 on his back? Oh most certainly.
More importantly, though, could Ichiro play another game in a Mariners uniform? Well, that’s a different story.
Even if I didn’t want to see him go, I believe the M’s should’ve shipped the Japanese wonder sooner. The Mariners would have gotten more band for their buck, and the M’s recession might not have lasted so long if the Mariners would have sent him packing earlier in his career.