Revisiting the Ichiro trade

 Last July 23, the Seattle Mariners traded Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees, ending his 12-year stint with the club. Much of the talk in Seattle, at the time, was about the end of an era. Some were sad to see him go, but understood it was probably time. Others had been calling for such a move for years. In return, the M’s acquired right-handers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar. The Yankees received some cash to offset some of the remaining salary on Ichiro’s contract that concluded at the end of the season.

Ichiro had two solid months with the Yankees, and re-signed with the club over the offseason for two years and $13 million. Mitchell went on to struggle in Triple-A Tacoma last summer and made four unmemorable appearances in relief in the majors. Farquhar was dominant out of the pen in Tacoma after the trade and picked up where he left off this past spring. Mitchell has since been released.

Through the 2012 season, the Yankees win this deal, and it’s really not close. There’s no way to measure any value the Mariners may have gained by trading a player useless to them on the field and opening up playing time for younger players, and neither player the M’s received gave value to them last summer.

Even ignoring the salary discrepancy, that hasn’t been the case this season.

Through Tuesday, Ichiro is batting .264/.299/.350 and .285 WOBA in 140 games, and has an fWAR of 1.3. With Mitchell no longer part of the equation, Farquhar has had to carry the load on his own shoulders, and he’s handled that quite well.

The right-hander, who bounced around like a rubber pinball last year before the trade to Seattle, was called up to the majors in May to help solidify the club’s bullpen. Not only has he done his part there, he’s now the closer. With a 93-97 mph four-seamer, a cutter in the 88-92 mph range, a changeup he can show a left-hander and a curveball that may be his most important pitch — and a very good one — the 5-foot-9, 185-pound freak has saved 14 of 18 save chances. He’s struck out 13.14 batters per nine innings — nearly 36 percent of all batters faced — and has compiled a 1.8 fWAR, topping Ichiro’s by quite a large margin considering he spent the first six weeks of the big-league season NOT in the big leagues.

I don’t know that Farquhar will be the Mariners’ closer in 2014, but despite relievers being so volatile and downright unpredictable, the 26-year-old has a chance to contribute in high-leverage situations and create a rare trade victory for the Mariners under GM Jack Zduriencik.

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Jason A. Churchill

Churchill founded Prospect Insider in 2006 after getting his start at InsidethePark.com. He spent several years covering prep, college and pro sports for various newspapers, including The News Tribune and Seattle PI. Jason spent 4 1/2 years at ESPN and two years at CBS Radio prior to joining HERO Sports in July, 2016. Find Jason's Mariners podcast, Baseball Things, right here and follow him on Twitter @ProspectInsider.

13 Comments

  1. There is a simple solution, if you don’t like the product. Turn off the television. Unsubscribe to the extended services on cable, and stop buying tickets. Whinning about it on the internet isn’t going to help much. It’s an entertainment industry, not a requirement to fullfill a sense of civic pride. That’s what we as fans can do, not whine more.

    I hate that some think it’s just about complaining more. Everytime you turn on the game on Root Sports, you contribute to the problem. You pay extra for that service, which in part goes to the Mariners.

    And stop blaming fans. That’s the simple approach. As long as you’re watching games, you’re supporting the Mariners. Let me know when you unsubscribe those extra cable services in protest.

  2. I think you should do that, James. Get in on video. I’ll post it.

  3. We as fans need to expect and demand more. Shouting it from the top of the Space Needle if needed. Personal records don’t help the team and mean squat. I want to play meaning full games in Oct. Anything else is a poor season. Do you see the Yankees, Braves or Red Sox going maybe next year but that was cool seeing so and so hit more HR’s than anyone else. No there What the F(*&^ that team sucked we didn’t make the playoffs. That is what we as fans need to be more like or we will always have the same old same old.

  4. Breaking that record, however, means absolutely zero in terms of the Mariners improving as a team. It’s not meaningless, but it’s limited.

  5. Meaningless to you, perhaps, Jerry. Breaking a Ted Williams record is pretty special. I suppose you’d be in the stands booing it, because it’s meaningless? I’m not at all surprised by your comment. And no, this is NOT an example of the current problem, it’s an example of recognizing a player like Raul who is a fan favorite and is probably second in team loyalty, to Edgar. Nobody, even the most casual fan, accepts losing. Did you miss the attendance figures the last three years?

    You can spin this any way you want, but what’s wrong with accolades? You took no pride in Felix winning a Cy Young award? You find Felix’ Court distasteful, because the team isn’t winning. You didn’t take pride in Ichiro breaking the single season hits record?

    If you want to complain, go ahead. But don’t jump on any fan who is trying to get the best they can out of a miserable season. They don’t have to be like you and shovel a load of hate onto the pile. Nobody likes what’s going on, so don’t try to make it sound like a personal venture. There are many.

    Change at the top? And how do you propose to do that? Someone else buys the team? Hardly likely. So, barring that, how does it get done? Complaining probably isn’t going to do it.

  6. Paul,

    Who said I want him back next year? But thank you for making an unsupported assumption that because I understand the importance of a record, that it somehow means more than it does?

  7. Well put Jerry, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  8. So do you want Ibanez back next year too? If so how much would you pay him and what role would you want him back?

  9. I’m not going to edit out the profanity. It’s fitting, and isn’t offensive. Just saying.

  10. Edman,

    Your interest in watching Raul chase a meaningless record is a great example of the current problem in Seattle. We have become way too tolerant of shitty baseball.

    I’m sick of being a fan of a team that is consistently terrible. Watching guys like Ichiro, Felix, and Raul chase individual accolades isn’t sufficient. Searching for interesting story lines in a lost season is fine, but at some point we need to demand something other than year after year of lost seasons.

    Time for a change at the top.

  11. In a lost season, how much harm is having Ibanez around, if he ties or beats Ted Williams’ HR record for post 40 year old ballplayers? It’s not like trading Ibanez would have turned thinga around. Having something other than Felix to cheer for isn’t a horrible thing.

    Some treat even the smallest events as if they are earth shattering. I get why he’s still here. And as a fan, I’d rather he be a Mariner if he breaks the record, than some B or C level prospect added to the farm system. They still need to put fans in the seats. Raul is one homerun away. They can and should market that as much as possible.

  12. Also…I wish we had traded Ibanez at the allstar break, before his performance flattened (predictably) out. Now we have to go through the drama of whether another fan favorite/washed up has been is brought back or not. Unless they bring him back on a $1-2 million dollar contract to be the 25th man on the roster next year, they are asking for trouble. Bringing him back in any other way is showing THEY DID NOT LEARN from their poorly designed 2012/13 roster.

  13. I don’t see it as a Yankee win last year, I thought it was a win for BOTH teams. For Seattle it was “addittion by subtraction.” It was way past time for the guy to leave, and we were spared the offseason drama of wondering if Japonese ownership was going to force the GM’s hand and MAKE HIM resign the player (a la Kenji Johjima years back).

    I appreciate the years Ichiro gave us but was Sooooo ready to move on…

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