MIAMI -- Ichiro Suzuki says he hopes to play until he's 50, and from what he showed this season, the Marlins may someday give him that opportunity.For now, the Marlins liked what they saw of Ichiro at age 42, and they're committed to the iconic outfielder for at least another
MIAMI -- Ichiro Suzuki says he hopes to play until he's 50, and from what he showed this season, the Marlins may someday give him that opportunity.
For now, the Marlins liked what they saw of Ichiro at age 42, and they're committed to the iconic outfielder for at least another season. Miami on Wednesday announced it is picking up Ichiro's $2 million club option for 2017.
The Marlins took their commitment to Ichiro even further by also adding the same club option for 2018.
"The reason for the option in 2018 is he wants to play until he's 50," Marlins president David Samson said. "He's told me. He's serious. I think he probably will play until he's 50, and that's fine by us."
Ichiro, who turns 43 on Oct. 22, has found a home in Miami. The 2017 season will be his third with the Marlins, and the mutual interest the two sides have with each other makes it a strong possibility he will retire as a Marlin.
"I think he's ready for more moments, and we wanted to get an option on him for 2018," Samson said. "You never know; after that, we'll worry about 2019."
Ichiro's quest for 3,000 hits was one of the most heavily covered events in the big leagues, receiving intense coverage in his native Japan and the rest of the baseball world.
The milestone was reached on Aug. 7 at Colorado, on a triple.
Entering the season, Ichiro was 65 hits shy of 3,000, and he finished with 95, giving him 3,030, which is 25th on Major League Baseball's all-time list.
"When [team owner] Jeffrey [Loria] first approached the thought of Ichiro and went to his baseball people, I don't think any of us to have pictured how well it's worked out for him in Miami," Samson said. "Having him around every day is an honor. It's something that none of us take for granted, that is for sure."
Overall, Ichiro enjoyed a bounceback season, batting .291 with an on-base percentage of .354. He also swiped 10 bases, giving him 508 in his big league career.
The Marlins carefully monitored Ichiro's playing time, which was an issue in 2015, his first season in Miami.
In 2015, Ichiro appeared in 153 games and his production suffered, as he hit .229 with a .282 on-base percentage.
Manager Don Mattingly effectively regulated Ichiro's playing time, and he appeared in 143 games. His WAR, according to Fangraphs, was 1.4, his highest since 2.6 in 2012, when he was with the Mariners and Yankees.
"Let's dump the age and all of that kind of talk because in Ich, you get a guy who plays all three outfield positions," Mattingly said. "Plays them well. Still throws well. Still runs well. Is productive off the bench. Always prepared.
"What we got from Ich this year as an extra outfielder, any team in baseball would like that."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.