Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki has lost patience with the New York Yankees over a contract extension and has begun talking with other teams, his agent said on Friday.
“At the beginning we talked a lot, but since that time, zero,” Ichiro’s agent Tony Attanasio told Friday’s New York Post.
“As far as we are concerned we don’t care what the Yankees do. We have had conversations with multiple clubs. If we see something we like he will go through with it,” Attanasio said.
Only a week ago Attanasio said the 39-year-old outfielder preferred to stay with the Yankees despite interest from several Major League Baseball teams.
During a seven-game streak in August, Ichiro, Japan’s most successful sporting export, batted .526 — going 10 for 19 — and finished .322 for the season in 67 games.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman refused to rule out Ichiro staying.
“Our focus was first on pitching and see the amount of dollars we needed to secure pitching,” Cashman said. “Now we will focus on players who want to talk to us.”
Meanwhile, David Wright agreed to the richest contract in New York Mets history while Tommy Hanson was traded to the Los Angeles Angels on a busy day in baseball on Friday when dozens of players were dumped by their teams.
Houston scooped up Philip Humber, hoping he is a perfect fit, and Mariano Rivera returned for another season with the Yankees. He will be throwing to a new catcher, though, after Russell Martin completed his US$17 million, two-year deal with Pittsburgh.
Jair Jurrjens, Mark Reynolds, Mike Pelfrey and Jack Hannahan were among the most notable names set to become free agents yesterday after their former clubs declined to offer them contracts for next season.
Teams had until midnight on Friday to make offers for next year to unsigned players on 40-man rosters.
Wright and the Mets settled on a US$138 million, eight-year deal, a person familiar with the negotiations said. The agreement replaces the All-Star third baseman’s US$16 million salary for next season and includes US$122 million in new money, the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been finalized.
Some of the money in Wright’s deal will be deferred.
Wright is the club’s career leader in several major offensive categories, including hits, RBIs, runs and walks. He turns 30 on Dec. 20 and would have been eligible for free agency after next season.
Atlanta shipped Hanson to the Angels for former closer Jordan Walden, clearing a spot in the rotation for Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado or another young starter.
Hanson’s velocity decreased as he battled rotator cuff tendinitis in 2011 and a lower back strain this year. However, the 26-year-old right-hander was 45-32 with a 3.61 ERA in 108 starts over four big league seasons with the Braves.
Walden had 32 saves in 2011, making the All-Star team as a rookie, but lost his closer’s role to Ernesto Frieri this year and finished 3-2 with a 3.46 ERA. He became expendable when the Angels agreed this week to a US$3.5 million, one-year contract with reliever Ryan Madson.
Walden gives Atlanta another hard-thrower for its bullpen to help set up closer Craig Kimbrel.
The ninth inning in New York belongs to Rivera, who accepted a cut in guaranteed money when he finalized a US$10 million, one-year contract after missing most of the season with a knee injury.
The career saves leader took a cut from his US$30 million deal that covered the last two years — but he can earn additional money in award bonuses.
Rivera was limited to nine games this year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during pre-game batting practice in Kansas City on May 3.
“I didn’t want to go out like that,” he said in a statement. “I didn’t want that to be the last image, but it wasn’t an easy decision because there’s more than just baseball with me ... I’m not just coming back to play. I’m coming back to win.”
Rivera, with 608 saves in the regular season and 42 more in the postseason, is a 12-time All-Star. The Yankees say his recovery from June 12 knee surgery will be complete by opening day.
By then, Martin will be handling a new pitching staff in Pittsburgh after spending the past two seasons with New York.
The free-agent catcher goes from a franchise that’s won a record 27 World Series titles to a team that has endured a record 20 consecutive losing seasons.
Humber, who threw a perfect game for the Chicago White Sox last season, was claimed off waivers by the Astros and agreed to a one-year contract. He gets an US$800,000 salary next year and Houston holds a club option for US$3 million in 2014 with a US$50,000 buyout.
The 29-year-old right-hander went 5-5 with a 6.44 ERA in 26 games last season, including 16 starts.
Jurrjens was non-tendered by the Braves after getting demoted to the minors last season. Atlanta also declined to offer a contract to reliever Peter Moylan, but claimed David Carpenter off waivers from Boston.