When Ichiro Suzuki was traded to the Yankees partway through last season as New York fortified its roster for a late push, he had to agree to move to left field and hit lower in the batting order before the deal was approved.
Now, Suzuki appears to be willing to give up even more to return to the club.
Suzuki is a free agent with plenty of options, considering the 39-year-old rebounded well last year after moving from the lowly Seattle Mariners to the contending Yankees. In 67 games with New York, he batted .322 and showed flashes of his MVP ability both at the plate and in left field, where he had no problem adjusting after playing right for most of his MLB career.
His ability to hit, contribute in all facets of the game and fill in gaps with a veteran presence means he’ll have plenty of suitors this offseason. But Suzuki says he’d prefer to return to the Yankees — and he’s willing to wait, George A. King III of the New York Post reports.
“[The Yankees] are going after pitching first, which is what the Yankees normally do,” said Tony Attanasio, Suzuki’s agent, according to the Post. “There has been a lot of interest [from teams], but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees. His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we will wait and see.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is reportedly working on bringing back closer Mariano Rivera and starter Andy Pettitte, both veterans who would just need to work out details with the team at this point. But their impending agreement to return — and specifically at what price — is what will set the other pitching question dominoes into motion, including whether last year’s closer, Rafael Soriano, will be pursued as a relief option.