The Marlins announced that they’ve declined a $2MM club option on outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and also claimed catcher Chad Wallach off waivers from the Reds. The pair of moves leaves Miami’s 40-man roster count at 34 players.
Ichiro, who turned 44 two weeks ago, will see his three-year tenure with the Marlins come to an end as the team’s new ownership begins to trim salary in a reported effort to shed $40-50MM off the payroll for 2018. The future Hall of Famer had a productive second year with the Marlins in 2016, hitting .291/.354/.376 in 365 trips to the plate. However, the 2017 season saw Ichiro receive the smallest amount of playing time he’s had in Miami — just 215 plate appearances — and resulted in a dreary .255/.318/.332 batting line.
The 10-time All-Star is a Cooperstown lock, but he’s had just one season of above-average production (by measure of OPS+) in the past seven years. While it’s natural to wonder if the beloved Ichiro is nearing the end of his playing days, he recently told Tim Healey of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he’d continue to play until he’s “at least 50” if he continues getting opportunities. He may very well have to settle for a minor league pact this offseason, but it’s not out of the question that a team would look to bring the veteran into its outfield mix — particularly an NL club capable of carrying a deeper bench.
Wallach, who will turn 26 tomorrow, was originally drafted by the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. Miami shipped him and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani to the Reds in exchange for a one-year rental of Mat Latos in what now looks to be a lopsided deal (DeSclafani’s injury status notwithstanding).
The son of former big league infielder Tim Wallach, Chad turned in a respectable .240/.363/.410 batting line in 243 Double-A plate appearances in 2016. However, his bat took a big step back in 2017 upon reaching Triple-A Louisville, where he batted just .226/.280/.398 and saw his strikeout rate jump nearly seven percent in the same number of PAs (243). He did make his MLB debut with the Reds in ’17, going 1-for-11 with a single and five strikeouts.