Sep 23, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Ichiro Suzuki (31) reacts after grounding out against the Baltimore Orioles during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. The Orioles defeated the Yankees 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Reds enter 2015 with more questions than hope, and with an increasing likelihood that they’ll be facing a major rebuild sooner rather than later. While it would be fun if the Reds were in position to court this winter’s top free agents in an effort to find that one missing piece to the championship puzzle, that’s not their reality. There is one very interesting free agent, though, who fits the the Reds current situation in a number of ways: Ichiro Suzuki.
Now, Ichiro-to-the-Reds may seem a ridiculous proposition at first blush, but the marriage could help both the player in the team in what figure to be trying times for both.
It’s no secret that the Reds need better offensive production and a capable glove to plug into left field for a year or so while youngster Jesse Winker matures (though you could make a convincing case that Cincy should just install Winker now). While Ichiro is no longer the star that he was even a few years ago, he played 143 games for the New York Yankees in 2014, including 128 in the outfield. In 385 plate appearances, he slashed .284/.324/.340 and picked up 15 steals on 18 attempts.
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Sure, Ichiro will be 41 years old during the 2015 season, but he is, at worst, no worse than the left field mess the Reds fielded in 2014, and, well, he is Ichiro.
Cincinnati will host the All-Start Game in 2015, and the Reds need to avoid the egg-on-face moment that would unfold if they fail to draw well in the months leading up to the July gala at Great American Ball Park. Coming off a terrible 2014 and little real hope of contending in 2015, the club faces a daunting task in bringing in the fannies.
Ichiro would help a lot in that regard because, a) he’s a future Hall of Famer, b) he’s closing in on 3000 hits, and c) he’s the closest thing to Pete Rose we may ever see again.
With 2844 hits entering 2015, it’s conceivable that Ichiro could pick up enough playing time with a struggling team next season to cruise over the 3000 mark. And, if not in 2015, then certainly in 2016. Cincinnati fans would likely pay to see the only guy other than Pete Rose with 4000+ hits in professional baseball (MLB and Japan) chase another milestone, don’t you think?