In the least surprising news ever, the Yankees have agreed to sign Raul Ibanez to a one-year deal worth $1.1M according to Buster Olney and Joel Sherman. Ken Rosenthal says he can earn up to $4M if he hits all his incentives. We heard that the contract framework had been in place for weeks last night, but the team was waiting to see if they acquired a left-handed DH-type in an A.J. Burnett before committing. That didn’t happen, so here’s Ibanez. The deal is pending a physical, and Ibanez will report to camp on Thursday. Position players are required to report on Friday.
Ibanez, 39, was born in New York City but grew up in Miami. His overall offensive production has been steadily declining over the last few years, though he can still hit righties some (.322 wOBA) and has pop in his bat (.184 ISO vs. RHP last year). He also doesn’t strike out much against righties (15.6 K% last year). Ibanez is unusable against left-handers though (.254 wOBA with a 27.5 K% vs. LHP last year), and he’s been one of the very worst defensive outfielders in baseball over the last three seasons. If he sees any time in the field, it better be in an emergency only. He’s a good clubhouse guy according to all accounts, which is something the Yankees emphasize.
My gut feeling that the Yankees were waiting out Johnny Damon was wrong, as usual. Ultimately, I think they went with Ibanez over Damon for three reasons. One, he was asking for less money. Two, he’s less likely to make a big stink if he only gets 300 plate appearances this year. And three, he’s more reliable defensively in the sense that Damon only played 84 innings in the outfield last year and 352.1 innings over the last two years. I don’t love Ibanez, but it’s not like he’s vastly inferior to Damon. None of the available DH candidates are all that great frankly, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.