Yankees to Sign Raul Ibanez; Hope for Improvement

As position players get ready to fully report to Spring Training, the Yankees have evidently decided to use some of that extra $13 million that they saved from the A.J. Burnett trade to sign the lefthanded DH that they have been craving for the whole offseason. They had frequently been connected to New York native Raul Ibanez, and today, Buster Olney reported that the Yankees have, pending a physical, reached a one-year agreement with him that could be worth up to $4 million. The contract will have a base salary of $1.1 million, according to Joel Sherman. A Pinstripe Alley hat tip goes to Xavier10, who first reported hearing about the signing in a Fanshot.

Ibanez, who has 252 career home runs, will be entering the 17th season of his major-league career after having spent time with the Mariners, Royals, and Phillies. Ibanez had his career year in 2009, his first season with the Phillies, when he hit 34 homers (including this moonshot, one of the longest in the New Yankee Stadium's history) with a 132 OPS+ to help the Phillies defend their NL East title and return to the World Series, where they were, of course, promptly stymied by the Yankees. Ibanez, who turns 40 on June 2nd, struggled mightily last season, as his hitting declined to a measly .289 OBP despite 20 homers, and was thus incapable of covering for his history of horrid fielding (see: Lookout Landing, "Raul Ibanez Takes Pride in His Defense).

The deal is certainly for more guaranteed money than I would feel comfortable for the Yankees giving to a declining hitter who will be entering his forties, but fortunately, the Yankees will not feel bad about cutting ties with a mere $1.1 million deal if Ibanez shows he has nothing left. In the best-case scenario, Ibanez improves his hitting thanks to less time in the outfield and gives the Yankees another threat to send bombs to the short porch in right field.

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