Thu Oct 2, 9:04 AM ET SEATTLE, United States (AFP) wrote:Ichiro's agent sees arbitration as "slap in the face" - Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners are set to soon open contract negotiations to avoid arbitration, a move the Japanese baseball star's agent said would be considered a "slap in the face".
Suzuki's contract will be the first order of business when the Major League Baseball club hires a new general manager this month to replace Pat Gillick, who departed after four seasons Tuesday at age 66.
Tony Attanasio, Suzuki's agent, said the Japanese rightfielder would likely not sign another contract with the Mariners if forced to undergo arbitration, which would happen next Feburary if the three-time All-Star stays unsigned.
"He would consider that such a slap in the face," Attanasio told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper. "A real loss of face.
"If we cannot agree to terms, if they force it into arbitration, Ichiro will never voluntarily sign another contract with them."
Ichiro signed a three-year contract before the 2001 season and cannot become a free agent until after the 2006 season.
With a trade unlikely, the only option without a compromise is arbitration, where the Mariners and Suzuki each make their pitch and the arbitrator picks one.
"We are not looking for a one-year deal or a two- or three- or five- or 10-year deal," Attanasio said. "What we are looking for is fair representation of what the club thinks this player is worth."
Attanasio, who also represents Japanese pitcher Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Mariners, said Ichiro knows the number he has in mind. The rang figures to be between 10 million and 18 million dollars, but that's a big range.
"Ichiro doesn't want the number to be so high that it will prevent the club from signing others," Attanasio said. "Simultaneously, if the club tries to take advantage of that by coming in too low, that would be a problem."
Ichiro, who made three million dollars in salary this season and bonuses that almost doubled his take, came to Seattle from Japan's Orix Blue Wave and was named Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year in 2001.
After hitting .350 as a rookie, Ichiro fell to .321 in 2002 and to .312 this season.