Free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has reached an agreement to return to the New York Yankees, according to a report at NikkanSports.com (Japanese link). The deal, the report says, is worth about 400 million yen or $5 million and may include additional incentives.
Suzuki earned over $18 million last season, the final year of a five-year, $90 million deal he had signed while with the Seattle Mariners. Once he was traded to New York at the July deadline last season, Ichiro flourished in his new home. In 67 games after the trade, Ichiro contributed a .322/.340/.454 line and swiped 14 bases for the Yankees.
At age 39, Ichiro seems to be less of a risk than most older players. He’s still in exceptional shape physically and has missed just one game in the past three seasons combined. Though his skills have almost certainly diminished over the years, he showed last year that he was rejuvenated by the trade to New York and enjoyed his time with the Yankees.
If this report is accurate, it looks like a good deal for both sides, though it’s likely Suzuki could have gotten a bit more money had he been willing to play for another club. With Suzuki in the fold, the Yankees have likely completed their outfield for next season, which will be perhaps the fastest in all of baseball with Brett Gardner in left and Curtis Granderson in center.
UPDATE (2:03 pm): Joel Sherman of the New York Post is disputing the NikkanSports report, saying on twitter than the Yankees are not having serious discussions with Suzuki at this time.