The Angels appear to be looking at Raul Ibanez to fill their vacant DH spot in the wake of Tuesday's Mark Trumbo deal, according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. While Stark seemed to indicate that the two sides were nearing a deal, Angels' GM Jerry Dipoto told the OC Register's Jeff Fletcher that a deal was "not close". Despite the uncertainty surrounding how close the two sides are to coming to an agreement, the Angels' interest in Ibanez is very real, with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times confirming that the club has entered negotiations with Ibanez's representatives.
#Angels have talked parameters of a deal with Raul Ibanez, but no formal offer yet. Ibanez had higher OPS than Morales last season.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) December 11, 2013
An 18-year big league veteran, Ibanez spent 2013 with the Seattle Mariners, the club that originally drafted him in 1992. A horrific defender, Ibanez has shown he can still produce with the bat despite his advanced age, as he has a 114 OPS+ over the past two years, including a .242/.306/.487, 29 home run, 123 OPS+ season last year.
With an outfield of Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, and Kole Calhoun, and Albert Pujols projected back at first base, the Angels' only real hole in their lineup is at the DH position, which had been filled by Mark Trumbo prior to yesterday. On a one year deal, Ibanez would be of decent value in a role where he is restrained from entering the field in a defensive role. His presence would allow the Angels to ween off the idea of starting JB Shuck at DH, a big win in its own right.
With Corey Hart now unavailable, Ibanez's market figures to pick up. Thus far, the Rockies, Braves, Mariners, Yankees, and Rangers have expressed interest in the two-time All-Star. The Yankees seem to be an unlikely match seeing as they already have an abundance of overpaid, aging sluggers.
The Braves, Rockies, and Mariners make little sense as well considering the latter two have already signed Justin Morneau and Hart, respectively, while Atlanta doesn't seem to be able to offer Ibanez more than a bench role. If the Rangers fail in their efforts to land one of the elite outfield bats still available, they could pursue Ibanez, but right now, it seems as if the Angels are the obvious fit.