Colorado Rockies rumors: Are they interested in signing Ichiro?
According to the Kyodo News in Japan, free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is talking with the Colorado Rockies about a potential contract.
On Monday afternoon, Jim Allen of the Kyodo News (h/t Sankei Sports) reported on Twitter that free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is in talks with the Colorado Rockies for a contract.
Our own Kevin Henry thought of the possibility of the Rockies and Ichiro potentially coming together on a pact all the way back in early November, just a few days after the completion of the World Series.
A look at the past few seasons for Ichiro
Being a man of advanced age for baseball (he turned 44 in October), he has been on the decline for the past handful of seasons, or since about 2011. He has spent the past three seasons with the Miami Marlins. He has taken in part in a lot of games (432, or an average of 144 per season) but he has only started in a combined 173 games with the Marlins.
He had an excellent 2016 season offensively as he had his first season with an OPS+ above league average since 2010. However, in 2017, he had 30 to 40 point drops in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage so his OPS+ dropped to 76 last year.
Overall, in 2017, he only started in 22 games but played in 136 so he was almost exclusively used in a defense replacement and/or pinch hitting role and had a .255/.315/.332 slashline. He can still be good defensively as, by the Defensive Runs Saved statistic, he was at -1 DRS, according to Baseball Reference but the 10-time Gold Glove Award Winner has still been at or above average for nearly all of the seasons since 2011 (2010 was the year that he last won a Gold Glove).
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What Ichiro could bring to the Rockies
First off, he would bring a veteran presence to the team. The Rockies only have one player on the 40-man roster who will be older than 33 and that’s Chris Iannetta, who is currently 34 and will turn 35 in early April. Ichiro is nearly a full decade older than Iannetta.
Secondly, he will bring the Rockies some help off the bench. In fact, as a pinch hitter, in 2017, he was pretty good as in 100 pinch hit at bats, he had 27 hits (for a .270 average). In 2016, he hit .263 in a pinch hitting role.
Thirdly, he provides the team, who made the postseason last year and hopes to achieve the same in 2017, with some, albeit limited, postseason experience. In two years in the postseason (2001 and 2012), he has done very well in the postseason as he had 10 runs, 27 hits, eight RBI, and an average of .346 in 19 games.
Also, he would be an option that would not cost the Rockies much to get. He was paid $2 million for each of the past two seasons and the Marlins declined their team option for $2 million on him for this season. With that and it being so late in the offseason, the Rockies could probably give him a contract for one-year and $1.5 million and it should get the job done. Heck, they could even offer him a minor-league contract with an invite to Spring Training and he may even accept it if he really wants to and thinks he can play in the Major Leagues this year.
Next: Bleacher Report predicts that the Rockies will do well in 2018
Overall, if they do come to an agreement with Ichiro on a contract, I think that he could help the Rockies in more ways than you may expect.
Note: MLB.com’s Thomas Harding played down the rumor in this tweet late on Monday night.