Mariners sign Raul Ibanez

The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

The M's have pulled a surprise move, bringing the veteran outfielder back to Seattle on a one-year deal.

The Seattle Mariners agreed to bring free-agent outfielder Raul Ibanez back to Safeco Field, signing the outfielder to a one-year, $2.75 million contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

The Seattle Mariners added another proven hitter Saturday, reaching agreement with free agent Raul Ibanez, according to a major-league source.

The deal is for one year for a reported $2.75 million.

The move is a bit of a surprise, not only because all signs pointed to the 40-year-old Ibanez re-signing with New York Yankees, but also because the Mariners already have a pretty sizable logjam at designated hitter, where he would probably be best served playing.

The lefty-hitting Ibanez could platoon at DH with Jesus Montero, but the club's other options at the position -- Kendrys Morales, John Jaso, and Justin Smoak -- all hit left-handed as well, so he does not provide much of an upgrade there. The likely scenario then is for Ibanez to fill in as the club's left fielder, where perhaps he will split time with Casper Wells and Robert Andino.

Ibanez returns to Seattle for the third time in his career. The veteran outfielder spent his first five big-league seasons with the Mariners and returned club for a second five-year stint from 2004-2008, when he had completely transformed as a player. The lefty slugger hit just .241/.295/.383 with 14 home runs in his first half-decade with the club, but hit .291/.354/.477 with 113 home runs his second time through town.

Ibanez is unlikely to put up those kind of numbers during his third stint in the Emerald City -- he has hit just .243/.297/.433 over the last two seasons -- but he can still drive the ball well and will likely get a nice send-off from the club and fans at the end of the season.

The contract also includes $1.25 million that can be earned by reaching certain performance landmarks.


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