If the Mariners are serious about their rebuilding efforts, then it’s time to trade Ichiro. The outfielder just turned 35 and probably has four or five good years remaining before he really begins to see a decline in production. The Mariners are taking another crack at a five-year plan, so the element of an aging, albeit very talented, superstar on the team makes little sense.
At this point in his career, the team could probably expect one or two top-tier prospects along with a couple lower-end minor leaguers in exchange for Suzuki’s services. For a contender, Ichiro could likely add the punch needed to get over the hump and help propel a team into the playoffs. He still plays defense at a Gold Glove level, has continued a streak of 200-plus hits over eight consecutive seasons, and is capable of stealing 50 bases a year.
Of course, there is the matter of Ichiro’s personality. While he’s not an outward jerk like so many professional athletes are these days, Ichiro does rub a lot of people the wrong way for whatever reason. This past season, a Seattle Times article revealed that a group of Ichiro’s teammates had intended to gang up on him and lay the smack down on their colleague. Great idea. A bunch of big, lazy white guys getting together and trying to beat up a smaller, athletic Asian dude. I hear the team watches a lot of movies in the clubhouse. Why not have a Karate Kid film night and clue these guys into what they’re setting themselves up for.
Many fans will be stunned to find out that outside of Seattle, personality and character isn’t all that big an issue for most pro sports teams. Meaning there’s a significant market in line for the likes of Ichiro Suzuki to come play for their teams. So let’s do it. Let’s pull the trigger on a deal and send a man who’s done a great deal for us on to greener pastures. It’s time.