Miami Marlins: Ichiro and Derek Jeter have history, but future with the team still uncertain

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 04: Ichiro Suzuki
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 04: Ichiro Suzuki /

With Derek Jeter at the helm of the Miami Marlins, it is suspected they will try to come to terms to keep veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki around. Yet, his decisions this offseason come with a difficult choice.

Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki go way back and the Captain has nothing but respect for Ichi. As we all know, Jeter was in New York when Ichiro arrived in 2012 and the latter was there to watch the former play his final game in 2014. Earlier this month, Jeter penned his admiration of Ichiro in a piece called More Than 3,000 in the Players’ Tribune.

"“My hat’s off to Ichiro,” Jeter writes. “He’s a guy who comes around once in a lifetime. No one’s ever seen anybody like him. And to be quite honest, we probably won’t see anybody like him again.”"

Now, these former teammates are reunited as player and owner of the Miami Marlins. According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, this relationship is suspected to influence how the Marlins pursue Ichiro when he hits free agency in 2018. According to Baseball Reference, the Marlins have a $2 million team option on Ichiro for next season.

"“Jeter has high regard for Ichiro Suzuki, and with Suzuki’s second half surge, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Marlins offer him a new contract,” Jackson said."

Whether for the Marlins or another team, Ichiro, now 43-years-old, is determined to keep his career going until he is at least 50-years-old. After an initial slump this season, Ichiro is hitting .328 since the All-Star break.

Friendship or history?

The only problem with Miami is the Marlins are in no need of changing their outfield scheme. With the talents of Marcel Ozuna, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton patrolling the outfield, Ichiro’s role with the Marlins is that of pinch-hitter. During his first two years with the Marlins, his time in the outfield vastly outnumbered his pinch-hit appearances.

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Yet, this season Ichiro has played 25 games in the outfield while making 100 pinch-hit appearances. Ichiro is just two pinch hits shy of tying the single-season mark for pinch hits (28 by John Vander Wal of the Rockies in 1995). He also holds the single-season mark for hits which he set back in 2004 with the Mariners at 262.

And for those wanting to see Ichiro break the all-time hit record, this reality in Miami is disappointing.

Ichiro leads active players with 3,075 career hits. This number puts him 1,181 behind Pete Rose, who reigns as the all-time hits king with 4,256 in his 24-year career. In order for Ichiro to break Rose’s record in the same amount of time, he will need to average 168 hits over the next seven seasons, something he is not able to do as merely a pinch hitter.

Unless something changes and Ichiro can start for the Marlins in the outfield, he will need to make a choice. If he wants to play for his friend and former teammate, staying in Miami is the obvious route.

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However, if he continues his perusal of history, his days in Miami are likely numbered. Ichiro needs to find a team where he can be an everyday outfielder or sign with an American League team and assume the role of designated hitter. Either scenario gives Ichiro enough plate appearances to potentially catch up and pass Rose in the record book, but neither can happen in Miami if the roster remains the same.