The Mariners just agreed to a one-year, major league deal with Ibanez. The deal is worth a reported $2.75 million with $1.25 million in incentive bonuses.
He will be looked at as an option in both outfield corners, as a designated hitter and as a possible first base option if the team needed one.
No one knows yet exactly how any of this will shake down. The plan is for Ibanez to come into spring training and compete for a spot and where he winds up will depend largely on how some of the team’s younger players perform.
Remember, we still don’t know which young players will still be with the club come spring training. There is a possibility one or more could be moved for another piece, so we’ll see.
But Ibanez returns to a city where he broke into the majors, then returned for a second go-around in the middle of last decade. He left the Mariners after the 2008 season and enjoyed success with playoff teams in Philadelphia and New York. The truth is, the Mariners have not had any real type of offensive power production from the outfield corners since Ibanez left.
He no longer plays full-time, but that should be a good fit for a Mariners team with a lot of floating parts in the outfield corners, first base and at DH.
What does this mean for some of the younger guys? Well, for starters, if Jesus Montero is still here come spring training, the team might be serious in giving him more chances to play behind home plate.
But there’s a lot of time left between now and February. I don’t think the Mariners are done this off-season by any stretch. If this is the end of their acquisitions, it would be disappointing. But I’d have to believe Jack Zduriencik is planning for additional moves that will help others like these make more sense.
For now, the Mariners have the clubhouse leadership they’d sought from some veteran players. And like it or not, Ibanez is still an offensive upgrade over much of what we saw patrolling the corners in a Seattle uniform last season.