Seattle Mariners fans bought tickets to see Ichiro Suzuki play at Safeco Field on Monday night, as always. And they still saw him — in a Yankees road uniform.
There’s no doubt now that the trade season is here, and it started with a couple of big ones.
Ryan Dempster was traded to Atlanta, and then he wasn’t (but he still obviously could be). Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante are headed to Detroit, as the Marlins could be cooking up a fire sale of their veterans.
And the blockbuster deal of the day, at least from a name standpoint, was Ichiro Suzuki heading to New York.
It was a surprise – Ichiro was still a draw in Seattle, after all, where he’s on the short list for the franchise’s most popular player ever. This would have been a monster deal a few years ago, but Ichiro isn’t quite the same player he was then. The 10-time All-Star was obtained for just a couple of minor-league pitching prospects.
Ichiro requested the deal, and this is certainly his best shot at a ring. With the Yankees in Seattle, he just dressed in the other clubhouse on Monday and singled to center field in his first at-bat, raising his average to .262 on the season. (You’ve got to admit that this is a pretty cool way to say goodbye to your big-league home for almost 11 seasons.)
A free agent after this season, his batting average has slipped from .352 in 2009 to .315 in 2010, to .272 in 2011. The 2001 MVP is still a .322 lifetime hitter, however, and will be an interesting fit in New York, where he’ll fill in for Brett Gardner, who is out for the season with an elbow injury. Ichiro is making $17 million this season, and the Yankees are getting cash in the deal, too.
“I am going from the team with the most losses to the team that has the most wins,” Ichiro said Monday. “It is hard to contain my excitement in that regard.”