Ichiro Suzuki is the Newest New York Yankee

With outfielders ailing, Yankees pluck Ichiro from the Mariners

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Ichiro couldn't beat the Yankees so now he joins them.

    Even with Twitter, the internet and dozens of 24-hour sports outlets scrambling for information, you can still be surprised by a move close to a trading deadline.

    The Yankees made just such a move on Monday. Jack Curry of YES was the first to report that the team has traded for Ichiro Suzuki, the longtime face of the Mariners franchise and one of the more entertaining players in baseball over the last decade. 

    It's not a move that anyone saw coming, continuing a tradition of stealthy Cashman moves that started with the trade for Curtis Granderson after the 2009 season. Ichiro is a free agent after this season, but his name never came up on the radar as a trade acquisition because he makes $17 million and because he could veto any trade.

    This one might have taken place once the Yankees arrived in Seattle for a three-game set with Cashman picking up Ichiro as some travelers might pick up mouthwash after forgetting theirs at home.

    Suzuki isn't the same player that he was changing games with his speed, defense and uncanny ability to pick up hits no matter where he slapped the ball. Suzuki is hitting just .261 this year, has little other offensive value than batting average and he turns 39 in October so he's hardly a player capable of carrying a team any longer.

    The Yankees don't need him to carry anything, though. They need him to be a complementary piece that replaces a lot of what Brett Gardner gave them before he was lost for the season with an elbow injury.

    Nick Swisher has also been bothered by a hip injury of late and Ichiro can step in to play right field if he misses any time in the lineup as a result. He's also a much better defensive player than Swisher, something that will come in handy the rest of the way.

    With Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones also on board, the Yankees will have no shortage of options in left the rest of the way. That will allow Joe Girardi to mix and match players for the right situations while rarely getting stuck with the wrong guy for the moment.

    The fact that Suzuki okayed this deal suggests he's fine playing a supporting role in the Bronx, likely as part of an attempt to win a World Series. There's not much risk involved for the Yankees -- they dealt pitchers D.J. Mitchell and Danny Farquhar, who aren't difference makers -- and the return could be a useful part of the puzzle the rest of the way. 

    One question yet unanswered is whether or not Ichiro will wear number 51 in pinstripes. He's always worn it in Seattle, but it was Bernie Williams' number and that might mean new digits for the newcomer. 

    It will look odd and surprising, which fits into this trade as snugly as a flyball into the glove of a outfielder.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.