The Seattle Mariners made the bold move of trading longtime superstar Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees. In some ways this is a surprising move because it is always difficult for a team to part with an icon that has been around for over a decade. At the same time, this move makes sense for a franchise that needs to part ways with the past and move into the future.
In some ways, I suppose this trade was about avoided a potentially awkward situation as the season winds down. The Mariners do not have the limitless payroll of the New York Yankees and they were not going to be able to offer Ichiro a legacy contract after this year. If they didn't trade Ichiro, there was going to be an endless collection of stories speculating on whether the M's would re-sign #51. Trading him away is obviously an abrupt way to end an era, but apparently management believed that it was better than stringing out the process.
Despite the sentimental attachment to Ichiro, he hasn't exactly been hitting like it's 2009. Ichiro hit .315 in 2010, but he dropped to .272 in 2011 and he was hitting .261 for the Mariners in 2012. At age 38, it is hard to imagine that Ichiro will start hitting .320 again. Granted, he may have a resurgence in New York when he is surrounded by the overpriced Yankee lineup. It is going to be hard to watch Ichiro in a Yankees uniform. Why couldn't the Mariners have traded him to the National League?
A new era
I have enjoyed watching Ichiro over the years, but it was time to move on. If they didn't move on, the Mariners were probably going to part ways with Ichiro in the offseason. At least they got a couple of prospects. However, I don't really have high expectations for the players that they received, particularly since the Yankees claimed Farquhar off waivers a few weeks ago. Could the Mariners have gotten more? We'll probably never know.
So long, Ichiro. Thanks for the memories.
The author lives in Los Angeles, but grew up in Seattle and still roots faithfully for the Mariners even though they are sometimes frustrating to watch. He gets to Seattle whenever he can to see his M's. You can follow him on Twitter @tpheifer.
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