Ichiro Suzuki has the Red Sox and Phillies to thank for him being on the verge of signing a two-year deal worth $12-$13 million with the Yankees.

While the Yankees landed Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera and Kevin Youkilis with one-year contracts, the arena changed with Ichiro because the Phillies offered him a two-year gig for $14 million, the Red Sox signed Jonny Gomes for two years and $10 million and Shane Victorino for three years and $39 million.

"He is going to be a Yankee,'' a person familiar with the process said of the 39-year-old outfielder who has a chance to reach 3,000 hits in pinstripes. He has 2,606 in a dozen big-league seasons.

When the contract language is finalized, Ichiro will undergo a physical. Provided his 39-year-old body passes the tests, he will officially be a Yankee again.

While you can argue the switch-hitting Victorino, who is seven years younger than Ichiro, is a better player, the same can't be said about Gomes, who is 32.

Because the Phillies viewed Ichiro as an important piece to the lineup, they went to $14 million so Ichiro is taking less to stay with the Yankees, a team he really enjoyed playing for.

Ichiro arrived from Seattle with a reputation as being aloof but fit in well with the Yankees' clubhouse and quickly developed a relationship with Derek Jeter.

Ichiro used two torrid streaks to hit .322 in 67 games as a Yankee and hit .283 in 162 games combined with the Mariners and Yankees.

When the Yankees acquired Ichiro in late July, they weren't wild about a 2013 outfield that had Brett Gardner in left and Ichiro in right because they are the same type of players who rely on their speed instead of muscle and hit from the left side.

Since Curtis Granderson does that, too, the Yankees have three left-handed-hitting outfielders. That means they are in the market for a right-handed-hitting outfielder and Scott Hairston, who is looking for two years, has been contacted.