July 24, 2012
Ichiro Bound for the Big Apple UPDATED
Some of you may not remember it, but Hulk Hogan was once widely respected (at least among the sorts of teenage boys who watched professional “wrestling”). He was what’s called a “face,” the good-guy character who you could wholeheartedly cheer for. So it was surprising that an aging, past-his-prime Hulk Hogan announced that he was going to be joining the “New World Order,” pro wrestling’s designated organization for villains, or “heels.”
Mariners fans may well be having similar feelings—just yesterday Ichiro was quite possibly the most most beloved player in the franchise's history, and tonight he's taking the field for the Yankees at the Mariners' own park. (Throwing salt in the wound, Ichiro requested a trade weeks ago.) And like Hulk Hogan, Ichiro is past his prime: His PECOTA-projected rest-of-season TAv is .263, which is a marked improvement on his dismal .235 so far but not enough to provide much above replacement value from an outfield corner, even if he plays his typical good defense.
Does that mean that Ichiro has no value to the Yankees? Not really; he can still hit a little, can probably play all three outfield positions (even if it has been a while since he’s played center field) long enough to spell someone for a few games, and has value off the bench as a late-game defensive replacement. He’s probably not a bad fit for a Yankees team that frankly doesn’t need a whole lot, but with Brett Gardner likely out for the rest of the season, he’s probably not the outfield bat Yankees fans were hoping for. —Colin Wyers
Acquired RHP D.J. Mitchell and RHP Danny Farquhar from the New York Yankees for OF-L Ichiro Suzuki and cash considerations. [7/23]
For Seattle, Ichiro wasn't bringing a lot to the table, and the value of a win in the standings is so low to the M's that it shouldn't bother them much if they can't find anything other than a replacement-level replacement. The Mariners don't save a lot of money in this deal; the Yankees will be paying $2 million for Ichiro, meaning the Mariners had to chip in roughly $4 million in the deal. More important for the Mariners is that they've saved face: They no longer have to worry about pressure to re-sign an aging Ichiro at the end of the season. Seattle can move forward and try to find players who will be on the next good Mariners team. —Colin Wyers
The Mariners didn't get much in return for Ichiro, but they did get two possible future pieces for a rapidly declining outfielder with no secondary skills.
Mitchell is the better prospect of the two arms. A 10th-round pick in 2008 who signed for an over-slot $400,000, Mitchell is a small, but athletic right-hander whose best attributes are his ability to throw strikes and keep the ball out of the air. His 88-91-mph fastball features heavy sink, and he uses a solid curveball against right-handed hitters with a diving change against left-handers. His future is as a middle reliever who gets groundballs.
That's also Farquhar's upside. He's become a journeyman this year, but that's because he's been just good enough to be the last guy on several teams' 40-man rosters. Selected 11 slots before Mitchell in the 2008 draft by the Blue Jays, Farquhar is fun to watch, as he varies his arm angles from three-quarters all the way down to sidearm on a 90-93-mph fastball with good sink. He's very inconsistent in terms of command and control, and he has a tendency to miss up when he's off, which has left many scouts seeing him as an up-and-down type of reliever.—Kevin Goldstein
Colin Wyers is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Follow @cwyers