(Hank and Hal just looking to cash in... Courtesy of Getty Images)
While most of the baseball world was buzzing about the Josh Hamilton signing yesterday afternoon, there was a significant development in the Ichiro Suzuki case, one that doesn't make a whole lot of sense for the Yankees in terms of how they've approached and executed their offseason plan to date. After multiple reports of Ichiro receiving 2-year offers from other teams came out, Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees were "resigned" to the fact that they now HAD to make a guaranteed 2-year offer as well in order to bring Ichiro back. I know this isn't going to sit well with my man James on the AB4AR Page, but that line of thinking and decision making by the Yankee brass is questionable at best, and borderline ludicrous at worst.
** UPDATE 10:36 AM- Jon Heyman reporting this morning that the deal is done, 2 years/"likely" $13 million. **
First of all, the Yankees aren't resigned to anything. They've put themselves in a position where they don't have as many options available to them to replace Nick Swisher in right field, at least not within the constraints they've set for themselves. But it's not like Ichiro is the ONLY right fielder available and he's certainly not the best outfielder available.
To that point, the whole idea of breaking the "1-year contracts only" rule for Ichiro, a 39-year-old player clearly in decline and who may be best suited as a part-time platoon player, is where the train really goes off the tracks. His .342 wOBA in 67 games with the Yankees this past season was excellent, no doubt about that. But that doesn't make the year and a half of below-average production before that disappear and doesn't change the fact that Ichiro has been in a pretty steady decline since 2009. The Yankees could have retained Russell Martin, arguably the best all-around catcher available, with a 2-year deal a few weeks back and they didn't even make him an offer. Now they're willing to make that same 2-year offer to a player who's probably not as good as Martin at this stage in his career and who's definitely a helluva lot easier to replace than Martin.
I just don't get it. The Yankees' number 1 goal this offseason and next is to create and retain a high level of payroll flexibility to allow them to get under the $189 million ceiling. How does guaranteeing a 2nd year to what will be a 40-YEAR-OLD OUTFIELDER next season help that cause??? The boys over at NoMaas tweeted this theory last night and it's a thought that crossed my mind as well- if this is about Ichiro chasing 3,000 hits and the Steinbrenners wanting him to be in pinstripes when he does it, then that's completely asinine and probably the final sign that George's boys don't really care about the baseball side of owning the Yankees.
While I was always a bigger proponent of the Yankees seeking a younger, more well-rounded option for right field next season, I accepted the fact that Ichiro was likely going to be part of the Yankee outfield in 2013 once the Yankees' offseason strategy became clear. And I've admitted that there are plenty of positives that could come from having Ichiro as part of the team next season. But him getting a guaranteed multi-year offer from New York over other players at more important positions of need, and better players who play the same position he does, is just not a good baseball decision and that's a fact.