Ichiro Suzuki signs new contract with Yankees

Big-hitting Japanese outfielder thankful for US$13m deal that sees him staying in pinstripes

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 December, 2012, 3:00am


Ichiro Suzuki signed a two-year contract with the New York Yankees, giving the Japanese outfielder a chance to crack 3,000 career Major League Baseball hits while wearing Yankee pinstripes.

The deal, worth a reported US$13 million, allows the Yankees to keep the legend who has been a 10-time All-Star in 12 seasons since moving from Japan. He was obtained by the Yankees from the Seattle Mariners last July.

"The Yankees are the kind of team that I always envisioned being a part of," Suzuki said. "Everyone in the world of competition has a strong desire to win, but the Yankees also have an atmosphere where losing is not an option.

"These two observations may sound similar, but I believe it is a rarity to find both co-existing in the same organisation.

"I believe the Yankees organisation appreciates that there is a difference between a 39-year-old who has played relying only on talent, and a 39-year-old who has prepared, practised, and thought through many experiences for their craft.

"I am very thankful and I will do my best to deliver on their expectations."

Suzuki hit .322 with five home runs and 27 runs batted in over 67 games for New York last season and overall batted .283 with 77 runs scored, 28 doubles, six triples, nine homers, 55 runs batted in and 29 stolen bases in 162 games.

By recording base hits in his first 12 games with the Yankees, Suzuki matched a team record for the longest hit streak to begin a Yankees career, equalling Don Slaught's 1988 effort.

Suzuki, who is expected to replace free agent Nick Swisher as the Yankees' starting rightfielder, has 2,606 hits in his North American career, giving him a chance to reach the 3,000 milestone with the Yankees.

Meanwhile, the bulked-up Los Angeles Angels swapped some hitting for pitching by sending first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for starting pitcher Jason Vargas.

The Angels, who signed power-hitting Josh Hamilton to a free-agent contract last week, sent some much-needed punch to Seattle to add left-hander Vargas to a rotation that includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton.

"We have been focused on adding offence this off-season, and feel that Kendrys will be a middle-of-the-order bat for us," Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "He's a switch-hitter with power who has played - and hit - in the AL West."