- Last Updated: 4:37 AM, December 1, 2012
- Posted: 1:33 AM, December 1, 2012
Ichiro Suzuki’s willingness to wait on the Yankees has declined to the point where the veteran outfielder is talking to other teams.
“At the beginning we talked a lot but since that time, zero,’’ agent Tony Attanasio said of discussions with the Yankees. “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.’
In a week’s time, Ichiro has completely reversed field.
“There has been a lot of interest [from other teams] but he enjoyed playing for the Yankees so much it’s hard for him to say no to the Yankees,’’ Attanasio said a week ago yesterday. “His preference is to stay there instead of going someplace else, but we’ll wait and see.’’
Of course, Ichiro’s reversal doesn’t mean he can’t return to The Bronx, where he was a fan favorite. Thanks to a torrid 14-for-20 stretch over five games in mid-September, he batted .322 in 67 games as a Yankee.
Nor did general manager Brian Cashman eliminate Ichiro from the list of outfield candidates he will talk to about replacing Nick Swisher in right field.
“I’m really not in position to comment, but our focus was first on pitching and see the amount of dollars we needed to secure pitching,’’ Cashman said. “Now we’ll focus on players who want to talk to us.’’
That could be an indication the Yankees are likely to attack right field through free agency, because the trade market doesn’t present many matches appealing to the Yankees attempt’ at getting the 2014 payroll to $189 million.
The Yankees gave Hiroki Kuroda $15 million, Andy Pettitte $12 million and Mariano Rivera $10 million and accomplished the goal of retaining their staff. That focus, and the belief Russell Martin wasn’t worth a multi-year deal, led to their starting catcher signing a two-year deal for $17 million with the Pirates.
When Martin, who had a two-year offer for $12 million from the Rangers, split for Pittsburgh, the Yankees were left with Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine as in-house candidates to replace Martin.
Though there are doubts that either can handle being a big-league regular at this point in his career, there are no in-house candidates to play right field. The Yankees are going to need to make a trade or sign a free agent to replace Swisher, who is looking for multiple years as a free agent.
Bringing the 39-year-old Ichiro back wasn’t frowned upon by the Yankees, but with Brett Gardner returning to play left, using Ichiro full-time in right would mean the Yankees had very similar players who lacked power manning corner outfield spots.
As for free-agent outfielders, the Yankees aren’t going near Josh Hamilton or Michael Bourn. Even Shane Victorino is looking for three to four years. Scott Hairston is more of a fit for the Yankees. The Nationals might move Michael Morse and the Rockies will listen on Michael Cuddyer, who is signed through 2014.Follow @NYPostsports