The Mariners have traded Ichiro to the Yankees, and while maybe that hasn't sunk in, and while maybe it won't sink in for a matter of weeks, this isn't the first you've heard of it. Everybody already knows that Ichiro is on the move, down the Safeco tunnel to the other clubhouse.
What might not have been immediately appreciated is that Ichiro had no-trade protection. One of the things possibly holding up Ryan Dempster going to the Braves is that Dempster has to give his consent. Ichiro gave his consent a while ago. He didn't demand a trade, but he asked that the Mariners be more open to the idea than they have been in the past. From the press release:
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said, "On behalf of our ownership group and everyone in the Seattle Mariners organization, I thank Ichiro for the great career he's had here in Seattle.
"Several weeks ago, Ichiro Suzuki, through his long time agent, Tony Attanasio, approached Chuck Armstrong and me to ask that the Mariners consider trading him. Ichiro knows that the club is building for the future, and he felt that what was best for the team was to be traded to another club and give our younger players an opportunity to develop."
In his final game as a Mariner, Ichiro went hitless, but he stole a couple bases and he scored one of two runs. Yet the final memory of Ichiro as a Mariner will be his walking out the door one July 23, making things emotionally complicated while at the same time making things impossibly simpler. In advance of the trade deadline, the Mariners have already answered what stood a chance of being the most difficult offseason question. Now it's just a matter of coming to terms with that.
The last time the Mariners played a game without Ichiro under contract was October 17, 2000. John Halama yielded to Brett Tomko, and Stan Javier batted leadoff in front of Al Martin. The Mariners lost to the Yankees.