SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners are bringing back Ichiro Suzuki.
Seattle finalized a $750,000, one-year deal with 44-year-old Japanese star on Wednesday after several outfielders got hurt. He can earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses.
“The addition of Ichiro gives our team another versatile and athletic outfielder,” said Mariners General Manager Jerry Dipoto. “His incredible work ethic, preparation and focus will enhance our environment in many ways. He’s truly one of the great players in the history of the game and his unquestionable presence is a valuable addition, both on the field and in the clubhouse. We’re very glad to bring him back home.”
Ichiro, 44, underwent a physical in Seattle on Monday.
Suzuki spent the first 11 major league season with the Mariners, earning 2001 AL Rookie of the Year and MVP, winning a pair of batting titles and becoming a 10-time All-Star. He was traded to the New York Yankees midway through 2012, played parts of three seasons with the Yankees, then spent three seasons with Miami.
Ichiro is the active Major League hits leader and ranks 22nd in all-time MLB history 3,080 career hits.
He has a .312 average and 3,080 hits. Suzuki appeared in 136 games last year and hit .255 with a .318 on-base percentage.
There had been speculation for a few days that the Mariners were close to an agreement with Ichiro -- after the club learned outfielder Ben Gamel would be out for four to six weeks due to a strained right oblique muscle.
Mitch Haniger is dealing with a hand injury that has limited his activity for a couple of weeks, and Guillermo Heredia is still in the final stages of recovery from offseason shoulder surgery.
Seattle has significant concerns about depth in the outfield, especially after the latest injury to Gamel. The question is why Seattle went with Suzuki rather than the likes of Jose Bautista, Carlos Gonzalez or John Jay, who were available as free agents and far younger than Suzuki.
There's no questioning Suzuki's place in Seattle's history, on par with Griffey and Edgar Martinez as the finest players in franchise history. Suzuki collected 2,533 hits with the Mariners, including 262 in 2004 when he set the all-time record for hits in a season. His trade to New York during the 2012 season was a stunning conclusion to his time in Seattle, but gave Suzuki the chance to play in the postseason for the first time since his rookie season.
Here are more stats from the Mariners:
"He has spent the last six seasons with the Marlins (2015-17) and Yankees (2012-14). In 2017, Ichiro appeared in 136 games with Miami, batting .255 (50x196) with 19 runs, 6 doubles, 3 home runs and 20 RBI. He made 109 pinch-hit plate appearances and had 100 pinch-hit at-bats last season, both Major League records. His 27 pinch-hits in 2017 were one shy of the single-season Major League record (28, John Vander Wal-COL, 1995).
Ichiro began his Major League career with the Mariners, taking the American League by storm during his rookie campaign of 2001. After winning his first of two American League batting titles while also leading the league in hits and stolen bases in 2001, Ichiro was named the Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year while also earning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger. He joined Boston’s Fred Lynn (1975) as the only players in either league to claim MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season. The 2001 season marked Ichiro’s first of 10 consecutive seasons with at least 200 hits – a Major League record – including a single-season Major League record 262 hits in 2004.
From 2001-2010, Ichiro won 10 consecutive Gold Glove Awards and made 10 straight trips to the All-Star Game. His 10 Gold Gloves are most among active players. He is one of six outfielders in Major League history to earn at least 10 Gold Gloves, joining Roberto Clemente (12), Willie Mays (12), Ken Griffey Jr. (10), Andruw Jones (10) and Al Kaline (10). Ichiro’s 10 All-Star Games appearances are tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for the most by a Mariner and are tied with Albert Pujols for the 2nd-most among active players (Miguel Cabrera, 11). In the 2007 All-Star Game in San Francisco, Ichiro was named Most Valuable Player after going 3-for-3 with the first inside-the-park home run in ASG history.
Among the Mariners all-time leaders in club history, Ichiro ranks 1st in hits (2,533), batting (.322), at-bats (7,858), triples (79) and stolen bases (438) while ranking 2nd in games (1,844) and runs (1,176), 3rd in doubles (295) and total bases (3,283), 4th in extra-base hits (473) and 5th in RBI (633) and walks (513).
During his career with Orix, Ichiro, a native of Kasugai, Aichi prefecture, Japan, led the Pacific League in batting average for a Japanese-record seven consecutive seasons. He was a 3-time league MVP and was named to the Pacific League’s “Best Nine” for seven consecutive years while also earning seven consecutive Gold Gloves. He led Japan to World Baseball Classic Titles in 2006 and 2009."