Reports are circling that the Mariners and Ichiro are close to signing a 5-year contract extension worth $100 million. I'm not sure if it's possible for someone to be overpaid and worth every penny at the same time, but that's how I feel. The Mariners positively, absolutely, have to keep Ichiro in the Seattle. He may not choose to speak much English, he may not be a leader in the clubhouse, and his relations with the press may be non-existent, but he is nonetheless the face of the franchise and the reason fans still flock to Safeco Field from as far away as Tokyo just to see the man play. That, and it doesn't hurt that he is a 6-time All-Star, a perrenial Gold Glove outfielder, a former League MVP, and the owner of the most hits ever in a season in the history of the game. After losing every major star this team has ever had -- Griffey, A-Rod, and Randy Johnson for example -- this franchise, for once, has to see to it that one of their superstars retires in Seattle. And to do that they have to offer him so much money that there is no chance of him turning it down to seek free agency at the end of the season.
Seattle Times article about "imminent" contract extension.
Yes, this contract is starting to approach A-Rod numbers in terms of annual salary. That's true. And no, I don't think a center fielder who hits for average is worth that kind of dough, but the Mariners are a wealthy franchise that has the money to spend. And keeping Ichiro in Seattle not only creates international attention, but it bolsters the morale of the fanbase who frankly would have thrown up in our collective garlic fries if we ever saw Ichiro is Boston or New York. Not only that, this team is poised for greatness. Maybe not this year, but even a slight improvement from the starting pitching rotation will be all it takes to make them a true World Series contender. For example, here's something you might not know: the Mariners have a better record than the entire National League. Unfortunately, they only have the 5th best record in the AL at the moment, which leaves them on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go. But there's stil 80 or so games to be played and they're only trailing the Angels by 2.5 games and are a mere 1.5 games out from the Wildcard.
Oh, and Ichiro went 3-3 in the All-Star Game tonight and had an inside-the-park homerun!