NEW YORK – The Mariners and Ichiro Suzuki are close to finalizing a one-year deal for the franchise icon to return to Seattle, according to multiple reports Monday.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale first reported the Mariners will bring back the 44-year-old Ichiro, who played in Seattle from 2001-12 during which he was a 10-time All-Star selection and won 10 Gold Gloves.
The Mariners are looking to add depth to their outfield with three of their top four outfielders currently dealing with injury issues.
The Mariners announced earlier Monday that left fielder Ben Gamel will miss four to six weeks with a strained right oblique muscle, jeopardizing his availability for Opening Day.
Right fielder Mitch Haniger (sore hand) has been slowed during spring training and outfielder Guillermo Heredia is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.
Ichiro’s deal with the Mariners could be completed as early as Monday, according to media reports.
Ichiro spent the majority of his 17-year major league career in Seattle, signing with the Mariners in 2001 when he was 27 to begin his major league career after he had 1,278 hits while playing nine years in Japan. He was the 2001 American League MVP and Rookie of the Year, and in 2004 set the major league season record for hits with 262 when he batted .372.
The Mariners traded him to the Yankees in midseason of 2012, and he spent 2½ years in New York and the last three seasons in Miami. He has a career .312 batting average and 3,080 hits in the majors.
Ichiro played in 136 games last year as a reserve outfielder for the Marlins, batting .255 with three home runs and 20 RBIs. He became a free agent when the Marlins declined his $2 million club option for 2018.