Photo: Jon Wells
Height: 5'11" Weight: 175
Bats/Throws: Left / Right
Born: 10/22/1973 in Kasugai, Japan
Offseason home: Kobe, Japan
Family: Wife Yumiko
Acquired: Signed as a free agent (03/07/2018)
MLB Debut: 04/02/2001
Free Agent after: 2018 season
He's back! The franchise icon, former Rookie of the Year, MVP, two-time batting champion, and ten-time All-Star returns to Seattle at age 44 after 5½ years away. He's by no means the same player that left in 2012—Ichiro is strictly a part-timer these days, providing insurance on the bench, the occasional spot-start, and hopefully some timely pinch-hits. Over the past three seasons with the Marlins, Ichiro averaged 339 plate appearances, with just 215 in 2017. He's surely able to match or exceed that, but whether or not he does will depend on other factors, namely the health and performance of first-stringers Ben Gamel, Dee Gordon, and Mitch Haniger.
There is a contingent of Mariner fandom that isn't happy to have Ichiro back given his age and diminished abilities, but the way I see it, who would you rather have on the bench? 44-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, or 28-year-old Shawn O'Malley? The Mariners' bench has been weak, to put it kindly, for some time now, hindered further by the team's decision to carry 13 pitchers for much of the last few years. Ichiro is not going to make it any worse, and may well give it some real usefulness.
Though there have been comparatively few players to ever play in the Majors beyond age 44, Ichiro wants to play for several more years—he's mentioned a goal of playing until he's "at least" 50, which may or may not have been said seriously—and if anyone can do it, Ichiro figures to be the guy. There's no getting around the deterioration age brings, but Ichiro's dedication and discipline is beyond the norm. He may not ever threaten a single-season hits record again, but he can still help the M's win, and that's what ultimately counts.