The Seattle Mariners have signed 45-year-old franchise icon Ichiro Suzuki to a minor league contract, USA Today reported Wednesday.
The contract, not made official by the team Wednesday morning, would reportedly pay the 10-time All-Star $750,000 if he makes the major league roster.
General manager Jerry Dipoto has said repeatedly this offseason that the Mariners want Ichiro to be on the 28-man roster when they open the regular season in the outfielder’s home country of Japan. Seattle will play two games against the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome from March 20-21.
“Ichi will be on our team when we go to Tokyo,” Dipoto said recently. “He’ll be an active player. We are still committed to the idea of developing this roster. Mitch Haniger is going to be our right fielder, Mallex Smith is going to play center field and Domingo Santana will be the primary left fielder. And we’ll find at-bats for Jay Bruce, whether they be in left field, DH or occasionally at first base. ...
“Frankly if he rolls out in Tokyo and gets seven hits in two games, there’s a pretty good chance he’ll play a third game,” Dipoto said with a smile. “You have to adjust as you go. We’re not going to predetermine anything. We’ll give him the opportunity to come in and do what he does, and prepare the way he prepares.”
An 18-year veteran with more than 3,000 hits, Ichiro played for Seattle from 2001-12 before stints with the New York Yankees (2012-14) and Miami Marlins (2015-17). He rejoined the Mariners for 15 games in 2018 and batted .205 with five runs.
Ichiro was removed from the active roster last May, but remained with the organization in the role of “special assistant to the chairman.”
—Field Level Media