Well, he isn’t fifty years old yet. But the ageless wonder will at the very least be turning 43 in a Marlins uniform. Ichiro Suzuki has been officially extended through the 2017 season, with the Miami Marlins announcing the picking up of that $2 million club option of theirs Wednesday morning.
The extension through 2017 should come as no surprise by any measure.
Baseball wise, he was just straight up good last year in his role. Not for a geriatric. Not for a pinch hitter. Not even just for a fourth outfielder. The All-Star discussion for him was legit, as he was batting well over .300 during his “chase” of Pete Rose‘s professional hits record. He batted .291, in what you could argue was his second best season since 2010. And only one of those six seasons was one you wouldn’t have enthusiastically taken from a bench player. He’s certainly best used in small doses, but in those small doses, he’s an elite weapon.
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Money wise, he’s a steal. Any skepticism that was out there about Miami picking this option up seemed to have to do with money. Yes, Jeffrey Loria and friends are a thrifty bunch. The group loves a bargain though, and two million dollars for the kind of production described above is extremely hard to come by.
Further, he’s a major draw. Fans do come out just to see Ichiro, and international attention for the Marlins soars whenever Ichiro is poised to check off a major milestone. Keeping Ichiro in the fold means a ton of free publicity. Plus, after the seismic roster changes for the crosstown Miami Heat and the Marlins own loss of Jose Fernandez, it’s not a wild claim to suggest Ichiro just might be the most popular sports figure in the market.
Least as long as the Miami Dolphins keep losing. At the very least, he’s on the short list.
And if you want proof that the team feels the same way, there’s the second piece of Ichiro news on the day:
It’s not necessarily just a 2017 extension.
In addition to this year, the Marlins tacked on a new 2018 club option. As long as he’s productive, it’s looking like he’ll be a part of this roster. Which speaks volumes about how much clubhouse chemistry has rebounded from even a year ago. Following a 2015 season that saw Ichiro bat just .229, the options were going to be limited for the future Hall of Famer. After this year’s effort, far more clubs would have been calling, and some of them would have been teams with odds of winning a title.
For whatever reason, Ichiro and the Fish clearly fit. He has the respect and support of his teammates, as well as the trust of Don Mattingly. On the field, off the field, in the clubhouse…whatever the case may be, he’s a valuable part of the club. Any intangible you can think of, Ichiro has them in spades; chalk them up as one more reason this is money so incredibly well spent.
Bottom-line, if Ichiro Suzuki is willing to put up with the Marlins, we might as well start feeling good about doing do it too.