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Sports : Thursday, November 09, 2000

$13 million bid for right to sign Suzuki
By Larry Stone
Seattle Times staff reporter

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. - Major-league teams suspected that the cost of negotiating with Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki would be high, but the figure filtering out of Japan last night is staggering.

Reportedly, the winning bid for the right to negotiate a contract with the 27-year-old outfielder was more than $13 million - and the team has yet to be revealed.

Yesterday marked the deadline for major-league teams to submit bids for negotiating rights to Suzuki, and though the Mariners would not confirm their participation, it is a certainty they were among the teams that bid.

The commissioner's office planned to fax the highest bid to the Japanese commissioner's office without revealing the name of the team. The Japanese officials were to pass on the bid to the Orix Blue Wave, Suzuki's team, which has four business days to accept or reject the offer. According to several Japanese reporters, the Blue Wave announced that the winning bid was $13.125 million.

If the Blue Wave accepts, the U.S. team would have 30 days to reach a contract agreement with Suzuki, who earned $5.5 million last season. The reason the team isn't being revealed is to reduce the chance of impropriety.

The Mariners have been considered the favorite to land Suzuki and have been extremely secretive about their bid. The Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, Twins and Pirates are among the other teams believed to have bid for Suzuki.