By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
Raul Ibanez is returning to his baseball roots. For the third time in his 17-year career, Ibanez will don a Mariners uniform.
On Wednesday, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik officially announced the signing of the veteran outfielder/designated hitter to a one-year contract. The news of the agreement came days earlier.
While the Mariners don’t release details of any contract, other sources have confirmed it’s for $2.75 million with over $1 million in possible incentives.
“We spoke of adding some veteran presence to our ball club this offseason,” Zduriencik said. “In Raul we have a player and person with outstanding leadership skills who has participated in postseason play the last several years. We will give Raul the opportunity to come in and compete and add an additional veteran presence to this ball club.”
Ibanez spent the 2012 with the Yankees, hitting .240 in 130 games with 19 homers and 62 RBI. He was supposed to more of a DH/bench player, but injuries forced Ibañez into more an every day role, playing in 72 games in left field. All 19 of his home runs and 57 of his RBI came against right-handed pitching last season.
The Mariners will likely use Ibanez exclusively against right-handed pitching when he does start or play. But his biggest contribution may come in providing an excellent example about conditioning and day to day preparation for the many young players on the Mariners roster.
“Raul is the ultimate professional both on and off the field,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said in a press release. “His veteran presence will be invaluable to our younger group of players.”
Ibanez was taken by the Mariners in the 36th round of the 1992 June amateur draft out of Miami-Dade Community College. He made his big league debut on Aug. 1, 1996. He stayed with the team till 2000.
After finding success with the Kansas City Royals, Ibanez returned to Seattle in 2004 and four more seasons. He is among the Mariners all-time most productive players. He ranks in the top 10 in club history in nearly every offensive category, including home runs (127, 7th), RBI (547, 7th), extra base hits (341, 7th), hits (967, 8th), games played (986, 8th) and slugging percentage (.464, 9th).
To make room for Ibanez on the 40-man roster, the team designated right-handed pitcher D.J. Mitchell for assignment. The Mariners now have 10 days to trade, waive or outright Mitchell to the minor leagues.
Mitchell was one of two pitchers acquired midseason in the trade that sent Ichiro Suzuki to the New York Yankees. In eight starts with Class AAA Tacoma, Mitchell posted a 3-2 record with a 2.85 ERA.