The San Diego Padres 2018 free agency cycle will always be remembered for Eric Hosmer. Whether the team lands him or not, fans will remember this offseason as the moment San Diego tried to take their team from cellar dweller to playoff contender.
However that doesn’t mean the team hasn’t been involved with other free agents. They’ve signed Jordan Lyles and Colton Brewer to major league deals, and have been connected to many others. According to a new report, the Padres were interested in a player not many would’ve expected.
Per Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com, San Diego showed interest in future Hall of Fame outfielder Ichiro Suzuki. Bloom got his information from Ichiro’s agent John Boggs, who is based in San Diego. Boggs said he has had discussion with the Mariners, as well as the Padres.
Ichiro is a baseball legend, playing 17 years in the league for the Mariners, Yankees and Marlins. During that time he has hit .312 with 117 home runs, 780 RBIs and 509 stolen bases. Suzuki is a ten-time All-Star and Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger, two-time batting title champion and a Rookie of the Year and MVP winner.
Ichiro has the 21st most hits in MLB history with 3,080. If you combined his 1,257 hits from Japan, he would have the most hits in major league history.
There’s no doubt that Ichiro is a first ballot Hall of Famer. However he doesn’t seem like a great fit in San Diego.
The team already has an outfielder core than includes Manuel Margot, Hunter Renfroe, Jose Pirela, Franchy Cordero and many others. They have no room to add an aging Suzuki. With fringe players such as Alex Dickerson and Travis Jankowski doing a lot of what Ichiro would provide, it makes no sense in a playing time perspective to add him.
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However, signing Ichiro would’ve continue to bridge the Padres to Japan. After being in on Otani and signing Makita, clearly Preller is interested in top flight talent. With Hideo Nomo and Takashi Saito in the Front Office, the Padres have filled the organization with Japanese influence.
With the potential of top pitcher Yusei Kikuchi coming stateside, having the greatest Japanese player of all time would certainly help their chances.
Overall, it appears that the Ichiro to San Diego ship has sailed. Boggs made it seem as if the two teams hadn’t talked in a while. But perhaps the Padres circle the wagons and come back to him later in the offseason.
While Suzuki wouldn’t make much sense due to the Padres plethora of outfielders, he would’ve helped in the team’s pursuit of Kikuchi. Just seeing the former HOF in San Diego would’ve been fun. But for now fans will just have to wonder what if as Ichiro to Suzuki seems unlikely.