Zduriencik: Dealing Ichiro 'was the right thing to do'
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TTLE -- Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said trading Ichiro Suzuki to the Yankees on Monday "was the right thing to do" after the veteran right fielder recently expressed a desire to move to a contending club.
In return, the Mariners received a pair of 25-year-old pitchers -- starter D.J. Mitchell and reliever Danny Farquhar -- who will be assigned to Triple-A Tacoma. Seattle also sent an undisclosed amount of cash to New York to cover part of Ichiro's remaining salary this season.
The move gives the Mariners some clarity moving forward, as figuring how the 38-year-old Ichiro fit in with a franchise clearly building around younger players beyond this season was looming as a major issue.
Manager Eric Wedge had tried finding the right spot for Ichiro, starting him out hitting third in the lineup, then moving him back to leadoff briefly before settling him recently at No. 2 in the order. He was hitting a career-low .261 with a .288 on-base percentage at the time of the deal.
Zduriencik said Ichiro's agent, Tony Attanasio, approached him about two weeks ago to let him know that Ichiro wondered if the club would consider trading him as he felt he didn't fit into the club's youth movement and future.
"As we moved forward with this thing, for us, you have to look at what this player has meant to the Seattle Mariners and this city, this franchise and where he's at in his career," Zduriencik said. "So you just had to do the right thing. And for the player, this is the right thing to do."
As for the Mariners, the move gives Wedge the opportunity to give more playing time to his younger outfield prospects this year and opens up salary and roster flexibility next season when they won't have Ichiro and his $18 million salary in right field.
Ichiro will be a free agent after this season, but the specter of whether the Mariners would bring him back at age 39 and sign him to a longer deal was hanging over the club.
Carlos Peguero, 25, got the start in right field on Monday. Casper Wells, 27, has a strong throwing arm and right field could be his best position in the long run. When center fielder Franklin Gutierrez returns from his concussion, Michael Saunders could also move over to right.
"We'll see what happens from now til the Trade Deadline and see what happens at the end of the year," Zduriencik said. "But in September, we were going to call up younger players."
In other words, Ichiro's sense that it was time to move on didn't conflict with the Mariners' own approach and youth movement.
"It's perfectly clear what we're doing here," Zduriencik said. "There's no running from it. They're right in front of our eyes. We'll continue to do what we're doing."
Zduriencik declined to comment on what the market was for Ichiro at this point in his career.
"He's not our property anymore," Zduriencik said. "He's a New York Yankee right now, and the best thing to do is wish him the very best."
As for the pitchers acquired in return, both have very limited Major League experience and will start out in Tacoma for now.
"Mitchell has a nice arm and a little big league time this year," Zduriencik said. "We're looking forward to seeing him in our uniform. Farquhar is a reliever from Louisiana, a nice arm. He was with three clubs this year, went on waivers and the Yankees ended up sending him down and he pitched very well in [Double-A] and just got moved to [Triple-A]. So we're sending him to Tacoma as well."