Welcome to the Dwork On Sports blog. This is a place where I’ll cover all things related to South Florida sports, with a steady combination of facts and opinions while ultimately keeping a close eye on anything and everything related to our local teams.
The Miami Marlins made some big moves during the offseason in order to turn the team into a perennial playoff contender. One move that may not have been the biggest but may end up being one of the most important was the signing of free agent outfielder Ichiro Suzuki.
While financials always play a factor in any free agent signing, Ichiro is quick to point out how accommodating the Marlins were during their courtship of him and those aspects have remained true even after he signed on the dotted line.
“I think what I wanted most was just the warm feelings that the Marlins gave me,” Ichiro said through a translator. “Like everybody knows, the people that came over to Japan to the press conference [did so] so it wouldn’t be tough on me to have the physical done in Japan.”
‘The people’ he is speaking of was a large contingent of front office personnel that made the long trip to Japan to further show the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer that he was very much wanted in Miami.
The group consisted of president of baseball operations Mike Hill, general manager Dan Jennings, president David Samson, vice president of communications P.J. Loyello and former Marlins star Jeff Conine, who works in the front office as a special assistant to Samson in addition to being the television co-host of the Marlins pre-game and post-game shows.
Ichiro went on to explain that when he was making the important decision of where to sign this season, Miami made it very easy for him to say yes.
“They are accommodating for me in the fact that here in Spring Training they’ll have a facility for me to have my [Pilates] machines here,” he said through a translator. “In Miami [at Marlins Park], also the same thing. To accommodate the things that are very important to me as a player. There was nothing that came in my way that I didn’t like or would say no to, and that’s a big reason why I’m here.”
In baseball nothing ever seems to work out just the way that its envisioned during the offseason and I have a feeling that Ichiro is going to play a very important role for the Marlins in the upcoming season. Both as a player on the field and as a mentor to Miami’s young core off the field, Ichiro could be the key in the Marlins reaching the high goals that they’ve set for themselves.
The Marlins continue to be linked to free agent relief pitcher Francisco ‘K-Rod’ Rodriguez, who is expected to sign a deal in the coming days. Rodriguez’s agent has also been in talks with Milwaukee, where the 33-year-old has played the majority of the past four seasons.
Rodriguez is one of, if not the best relief pitcher remaining on the open market. If he remains with the Brewers he would have the opportunity to be their closer again in 2015 but with the Marlins Rodriguez would likely step into a set-up role in front of Miami closer Steve Cishek.
It’s been reported that K-Rod is seeking a one-year deal worth around $10 million but the Marlins seem to be more comfortable offering him that amount of money on a two-year contract. I’m hoping that the two sides can find a middle ground because adding Rodriguez to the Marlins bullpen would make the already strong unit that much better. Remember last season and how automatic the back of the American League champion Kansas City Royals’ bullpen was? Miami’s pen could have that kind of potential with Cishek, Rodriguez and either Bryan Morris, A.J. Ramos or Mike Dunn.
(Follow David on Twitter @DavidDwork)