The New York Yankees made a much-rumored signing official today by inking Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $1.1 million deal. Ibanez is projected to serve as the team’s designated hitter following the retirement of Jorge Posada and the trade of Jesus Montero to the Seattle Mariners.
Ibanez looked like a shell of a player last season for the Philadelphia Phillies in the final year of a three year deal. The 39 year-old had a .708 OPS in 144 games for the Phillies last season, serving as their primary left fielder. While his power remained relatively strong (.174 ISO compared to a .191 career mark), his BABIP fell to .268, his lowest mark since 2000, and his batting average and on-base percentage fell along with it. Ibanez’s 5.7% walk rate last year was also his lowest since a 37 game stint with the Mariners in 1998. The move to DH will also help Ibanez’s fielding numbers, which have been horrendous over the last five years aside from a brief uptick in 2009.
Away from the hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park last season, Ibanez struggled mightily, OPSing just .577 with a pathetic .107 ISO. However, he’s going to a park, Yankee Stadium, that tremendously favors hitters. Yankee Stadium had a park factor of 110 for hitters last year, compared to 102 for Citizens Bank Park. The shift in leagues will likely hurt his overall production, though he was playing in the toughest division in the National League with the Phillies.
I’d expect Ibanez to possibly platoon at the DH position with Andruw Jones, after Ibanez had just a .585 OPS against lefties last season compared to a .923 mark for Jones. The pair could be a pretty good platoon for the Yankees, who got just a .713 OPS out of Posada last year before his retirement.
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