If Ichiro Suzuki (50) made his major league debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers, would history have changed?
On the 5th (hereafter referred to as Korean time), the US ‘Boston Globe’ reported the story behind Ichiro’s posting. After finishing the season in Japan in 2000, Ichiro advanced to the major leagues as a posting and signed a three-year, $14,088,000 contract with the Seattle Mariners.
At the time, the posting system was such that the team with the highest bid had the exclusive right to negotiate for 30 days. It is known that more than 10 teams are interested, and Seattle made the highest bid at $13.1 million. This amount went to Ichiro’s original team, Orix Blue Wave.
At that time, there was no case in which a Japanese hitter entered the major leagues, and it was difficult to accurately evaluate Ichiro’s value. However, from 1990 to 1993, as pitching coach for Orix, Jim Colburn, a Seattle Pacific Rim scout who was well versed in Japanese baseball circumstances, was convinced of Ichiro’s success and led to a contract with Seattle.
According to The Boston Globe, Colburn said, “I bet. Ichiro said that when he comes to the major leagues, he will hit 200 hits and become the batting champion, score 80 runs, steal 50 bases and record 15 assists in the outfield. He said he would do it in 5 years, but Ichiro did it all the first year. It was a pleasant surprise,” he recalled.
The Boston Globe explained that there were four teams participating in Ichiro’s posting at the time, and none came close to the Seattle bid. Colburn claimed more than 10 million dollars for the bid, and as Seattle owner Hiroshi Yamauchi ordered to catch Ichiro, the higher-than-expected bid of 13.1 million dollars came out.
“The Dodgers were also interested in Ichiro,” Colburn said. “I was proud of my instincts to guess correctly, but my $13.1 million bid was a fail-safe,” he said.
Ichiro’s post from 22 years ago suddenly became a topic of discussion because of Masataka Yoshida (30), a Japanese outfielder who is about to make his big league debut with the Boston Red Sox this year. Yoshida signed a five-year, $90 million contract with Boston last December. The highest contract ever for a Japanese hitter who entered the major leagues. Adding his $15.4 million in postings brings him to over $100 million. It remains to be seen whether Boston’s investment, which spent a larger-than-expected amount, will be as successful as Seattle, which caught Ichiro 22 years ago.