On Friday afternoon, Nationals’ outfielder Jayson Werth underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on the AC joint in his right shoulder, according to the team:
On Thursday, I mentioned two possibilities in prospect Michael Taylor and free agent outfielder Nate Schierholtz that could be options to take Werth’s spot if he can’t make it back for Opening Day on April 6 against the New York Mets. Today, I wanted to focus on a name that is a long shot possibility, but could be an intriguing fit as a veteran looking to get one last chance at making it to the World Series.
While Ichiro Suzuki is far from his days in Seattle when he was racking up 200+ hit seasons, the 41-year-old still has some hits left in his arsenal. He has been with the New York Yankees for 2.5 seasons. He was traded to the Yankees in July of 2012 from the Mariners.
In 2014, Suzuki hit .284 in 143 games, a 22 point increase from his 2013 total in 150 games. His on-base percentage also went up from 2013 from .297 to .324. Now, Suzuki did make 95 starts out of those 143 games, hitting .275 with one home run and 20 RBI’s.
While Ichiro has the flexibility of playing all three outfield positions, he has played a combined total of 53 games in left field over those seasons. Bringing in Suzuki would mean a likely switch back to left field for Bryce Harper until Werth comes back.
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The problem I see with Ichiro being a fit in Washington is that he is going to want to go to a place where he can not only contend, but play everyday. The reason for that is despite being already over 4,000 combined hits when you talk about his time in Japan and the MLB, he is still 156 hits shy of reaching 3,000 hits in his MLB career.
Suzuki would be a good fit as a defensive replacement and a pinch-running option, but if it came down to the team picking between Suzuki or Taylor for the roster spot, they should lean towards Taylor in my opinion.
As of right now, Ichiro has been linked to teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, and Miami Marlins as a fourth outfield candidate. Even the Nats’ Beltway rivals could probably be more of a benefit for Ichiro reaching both his career milestone as well as playing time and a chance at playing some meaningful baseball in October.
With Nate McLouth looking to comeback from shoulder surgery himself, Washington is going to give him his chance at the job, if he remains healthy. While it would be nice to have a future Hall of Famer in the nation’s capital, it doesn’t seem as if Ichiro and the Nationals are an exact match.