After days and days of reports that the Yankees were “negotiating extensively” with Raul Ibanez, they finalized the deal this morning. The 39-year old lefty will serve as DH and provide a backup outfielder should the need arise. The deal is for 1 year and will pay Ibanez $1.1M, keeping the Yankees squarely within the $1-2M budget they set for the DH spot.
As YGY writer Shawna Lent noted a few weeks ago, the Yankees need a DH who can hit righties, and Ibanez certainly fits that bill. But as Shawna noted more recently, Ibanez would not be her first choice of DH.
True, another aging player is something that the already aging Yankees lineup doesn’t necessarily need. And Ibanez’s -0.4 WAR last year sets him firmly in the realm of replacement level players. But platooning with Andruw Jones in the DH spot could spark and uptick in Ibanez’s numbers. Coupled with the fact that the veteran will no longer be playing the field on a daily basis, Ibanez’s legs should stay much fresher. Ibanez will likely be able to bump his OPS back up to a healthier level, and his 252 career home runs and 1054 career RBI prove that he can be valuable in producing runs. In an already stacked lineup where guys are likely to be on base, Ibanez’s bat against right-handed pitchers will likely prove quite productive. Far more so than a Ramiro Pena, for example.
So that should be it for the Yankees this winter: they got their DH, they upgraded the starting rotation in a huge way, and they unloaded some money by trading A.J. Burnett to the Pirates. Overall a very productive offseason, and a finished product that fans are very excited to see take the field on April 6th.