Over the past few days, there has been a considerable amount of buzz about how Ichiro Suzuki is on the precipice of being the odd man out in the New York Yankees‘ crowded outfield. The Yankees also have Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano, and although Soriano is likely to be the DH, someone is still going to have to take a seat on the bench, and it will most likely be Ichiro.
The Yankees also appear to be willing to trade Ichiro, and some have wondered if the Detroit Tigers might be willing to take him off of their hands, as they currently have a need for a left-handed hitting outfielder. However, the Tigers would be very wise to look elsewhere for a left-handed bat.
Ichiro is simply way past his prime. He had a brief resurgence after joining the Yankees in July of 2012, but in 2013, he regressed to a .262/.297/.342 slash line with just seven home runs and 35 RBIs through 150 games. The Ichiro that was guaranteed to hit more than .300 with 200-plus hits and 40 stolen bases has not existed since 2010. Instead, the Tigers would most likely be getting a 40-year-old outfielder who would hit .250-.260 with absolutely no power in spacious Comerica Park. He is also owed $6.5 million for the 2014 season, which is a rather large paycheck for the type of production he would give the Tigers.
Ichiro still runs rather well, as he swiped 20 bags for the Yankees last season, but it is hard to imagine what else he would bring to the table. Furthermore, the Tigers already have enough speed with Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis. The Tigers have a greater need for power at the moment, and they would be far better off searching for a younger left-handed hitter with more pop in his bat such as Nate Schierholtz to platoon with Davis in left field.
The 30-year-old Schierholtz had a breakout season for the Chicago Cubs in 2013 and hit 21 home runs with 68 RBIs through 137 games. He has been rumored to be on the trading block, and he should most certainly be on the Tigers’ radar. The Tigers could also ask the Tampa Bay Rays about Matt Joyce, or wait and see what the Los Angeles Angels decide to do with Brennan Boesch, as either would be a far better fit for the Tigers than Ichiro.
Ichiro took the MLB by storm when he first came over in 2001, and he has had an exceptional run in the big leagues over the past 13 seasons. But the fuel in his tank is beginning to run out, and there are other players who would be able to make greater contributions to the Tigers in 2014.