I don't think he gets 12 mil per either. Actually, I'd be more surprised if he didn't retire back to Japan. Ichiro may be a lot of things, but he has his pride. He knows he's under performing and looking bad at the dish.
I would give it about a 50/50 chance that Ichiro goes home or stays just to get the 3,000th hit, which would be a great thing for the Mariners organization (since we don't have on in our history yet). But 12 million per is out of the question. I don't think he gets over 10. Heck, I don't think he gets over 8. If he's staying just to get the milestone, I doubt the money matters.
"Well, it's clear that the Mariners are going to try to entice him to stay."
He brings in a ton of interest from Japan, and, thus, money. I wouldn't be surprised that, in the event we lose Ichiro, Seattle tries to find another big name over there to fill the void. Though whether they could find anybody over there as good as Ichiro is another story. Japanese position players have been a wide varying degree of hit and miss. For every Ichiro and Matsui you've got a Kaz (Matsui) and Fukudome (who actually hasn't been god awful, but definitely not as good as he should have been).
Plus we'd probably lose Munenori Kawasaki, and that means we'd lose our cute mascot.
"But that's the problem even trying to entertain him going for 3000 MLB hits is just not feasible."
Oh it's feasible. Just painful for everybody involved. As Ike pointed out, Ichiro's production will continue to taper off. He may not even ever get to 3,000, and that might be worse than leaving now (at the end of the season).
I'm not convinced Yamauchi-san ever cared about baseball to begin with. This was a business decision for him, and likely the decision to pursue Ichiro was a similar decision. Both have paid huge dividends for him. Japanese interest in the Mariners has flourished because of this. Then again, Yamauchi-san was also the person who flat out said we wouldn't pursue Hideki Matsui, so... who knows. Not all decisions are smart ones, I guess.
Some fans make a big deal out of Yamauchi-san never attending a Mariner game, even when it was in Japan. I don't. For some reason, it seems fans like the Jerry Jones or George Steinbrenner type of owner; the guy who's so passionate and cares that he constantly meddles in the goings on of the decision making. Frankly, I find this kind of fan-wank to be stupid. Jerry Jones doesn't know what he's doing, and while 'The Boss' has been successful with the Yankees lately (mostly due to him staying out of the front office and / or being dead), in his earlier meddling years he caused a bunch of headaches for the people involved. It's so bad that too many Yankee fans and sports media personalities desperately want either Hank or Hal to be "like their dad" so that they can continue milking this narrative of 'The Boss', but George's sons have wisely stayed mostly out of the limelight. I can cite numerous other examples over baseball's history of meddling owners screwing everything up, going all the way back to the "great" Chuck Comiskey.
The only thing I want in an owner is a guy who will allow money to be spent and stay out of the way. We've had varying degrees of either over the years, but not enough of both.
If the M's paid anything more than 6 million / year to Ichiro I would be upset.
I would also be upset if he is our primary fulltime RF'er next season. Hot streak aside, I'd really like Casper Wells to get the shot. He has some pop .... he is a good defender .... an excellent arm.
I still think Ichiro can be useful as someone who plays a couple games a week. I'd be perfectly content with him going back to Japan as well.
I'm just sick of seeing old, over the hump players in Seattle.
When KGRjr returned (he was 39 at the time, which is the age Ichiro will be later this year), he was given a one year deal, ~$2 mil + incentives. Incentives included bonuses for overall Mariner attendance, number of plate appearances, and not going on the DL. If bringing Ichiro back is about attendance, hits, etc, then write the contract to reflect it.
Let's not bid against ourselves. Ichiro is coddled in Sea, he has his dream mansion, etc, I don't see him wanting to go elsewhere. What's his leverage? Very little, if any. If there were any whispers of him saying, if you don't pay me $X, I'll just go back to Japan, I would question his level of desire, and I would NOT pay him. After all he's been paid to date, and the great way he's been treated, if it's nothing but a shakedown for one last oversized serving of greenbacks, we need to end it.