Prediction: Ichiro won’t be back in Miami Marlins uniform

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 01: Ichiro Suzuki
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 01: Ichiro Suzuki /

The Miami Marlins are heading into the 2018 offseason with a lot of question marks. Payroll based personnel moves are on the way.

Expect a winter full of turnover for the Miami Marlins. Derek Jeter and the rest of his ownership group will have to trim payroll any way they can. That may include dealing slugger Giancarlo Stanton to another team. It might not.

But brace yourself to say goodbye to a lot of supporting players on the Marlins roster. Some players already locked into contracts will be traded. Veterans with expiring contracts won’t be retained.

That includes all-time great and fan favorite Ichiro Suzuki.

On a number of occasions, Ichiro has said that he want’s to play Major League Baseball until he is 50-years old. You get the impression that if anyone could do it, it’d be him.

But it probably isn’t going to be in a Miami Marlins uniform. The slap-hitting speedster might have lost a step over the years, but he’s still an effective pro ballplayer. He’d be good enough to start on a daily basis for a team that didn’t have three bonafide stars in the outfield.

Coming off the bench, Ichiro has managed to post a .304 OBP. But his opportunities are limited. He’s made only 172 plate appearances for the Marlins this season, drawing 12 walks and recording 39 hits.

He recently made his 84th pinch-hit appearance this season. That stands as the most in a single season in Major League Baseball history, surpassing former Marlins Lenny Harris.

Why he won’t be back

It’ll come down to money. According to an article by Barry Jackson of the Miami-Herald, cost-cutting measures are on the way. It remains to be seen whether this includes big names, or a flurry of smaller salaries. Or both.

With Ichiro likely demanding a salary in the millions, he prices himself out of Miami’s budget.

The Miami Marlins are paying Ichiro a salary of $2 million this season. His contract expires at the end of the year and he is free to test free agency. He will command roughly the same dollar amount as his current contract on the open market, and that’s too rich for the Fish.

Consider that the Marlins recently called up third baseman Brian Anderson, who is performing well early on. He figures to be starting at the hot corner in 2018. That means that Derek Dietrich becomes the first lefty bat off the bench.

With several years of team control ahead of him, Dietrich offers a cost effective option that can play on the infield. Needing a fourth outfielder, the Miami Marlins are replete with options in the minor leagues.

Outfielder Braxton Lee, acquired in the trade of Adeiny Hechavarria appears to be the likeliest option next season. Lee posted an OBP of .397 in 59 games with the Marlins AA affiliate. He has been assigned to the Arizona Fall League, and will likely be in Major League camp next spring.

Next: Marlins frustrated, on WC periphery

Ichiro’s time with the Miami Marlins is expiring. If you haven’t been able to get out to the field and watch him play, do it while you can.