Rich History of Signing Japanese Players
Ichiro Suzuki. Kazuhiro Sasaki. Yusei Kikuchi. Hisashi Iwakuma. Munenori Kawasaki. The list of Japanese players that started in Seattle or spent a significant portion of their major league careers with the Mariners is extensive. Ichiro is still involved with the team to this day, taking batting practice and shagging fly fly balls while in full uniform. He might be the Mariners' secret weapon in convincing Ohtani to sign a deal. Munenori Kawasaki cited the opportunity to play with Ichiro as one of the main reasons he decided to sign a minor league deal with the team.
Ohtani has publicly demonstrated his admiration of Ichiro as one of the first and most successful Japanese superstars in MLB. His presence and continued involvement with the team could be an important key differentiator from other highly-competitive destinations, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.