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Ichiro signs 2-year deal with Yankees

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Dec 20 2012 08:22:04 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 20 2012 10:58:29 PM CST
Ichiro Suzuki, New York Yankees

Adam Hunger/Reuters

Ichiro Suzuki is staying in pinstripes.

The free agent outfielder signed a two-year deal with the New York Yankees, the team announced Wednesday. Financial terms weren't revealed, but various media reports put the contract's total value between $12 million and $13 million.

"The Yankees are the kind of team that I always envisioned being a part of," Suzuki said in a statement released by the team. "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 coexisting in the same organization.

"I believe the Yankees organization 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, practiced, and thought thoroughly through many experiences for their craft. I am very thankful, and I will do my best to deliver on their expectations."

The Yankees acquired the 10-time All-Star from the Seattle Mariners in a trade on July 23. In 67 games with the Yankees, Ichiro hit .322 with five homers and 27 RBI. He struggled earlier in the season with Seattle, batting .261 with four homers and 28 RBI in 95 games. His overall total of 29 steals was the lowest figure of his career.

While Ichiro split time between left field and right field with the Yankees last season, he figures to land permanently in right field next season. New York's previous right fielder, Nick Swisher, is a free agent, and numerous teams reportedly are interested in signing him.

If Ichiro, 39, enjoys two more big seasons in the Bronx, he could reach the 3,000-hit milestone. He has 2,606 hits in his major league career, which began with 11 1/2 seasons in Seattle before the deal to New York.

Over nine seasons in the Japanese leagues, Ichiro compiled 1,278 hits, giving him a grand total of 3,884. The all-time Major League Baseball record for hits is 4,256, held by Pete Rose. Ichiro would have to play well into his 40s to challenge that mark.