BY SPNW Staff 08:05PM 12/22/2012

Mariners, Raul Ibanez Agree On 1-Year Deal

Raul Ibanez, 40, will become the fourth player to have three different stints with the Seattle Mariners, following Norm Charlton, Mike Blowers and Jeff Nelson.

Raul Ibanez, who played last season with the Yankees, has reportedly agreed on a one-year deal with the Seattle Mariners. / Wiki Commons

The Mariners have signed 40-year-old free agent Raul Ibanez to a one-year contract, according to numerous media reports. Ibanez, who began his career with the Mariners more than a decade and a half ago, had two previous stints with the club, from 1996-00 and from 2004-08, and will become the fourth player to have three turns with the team.

The deal was not announced early Saturday night because the Mariners have to make a 40-man roster move to create a spot for Ibanez. Terms of the agreement are not known, but Ibanez played for $1.1 million last year with the Yankees.

Ibanez hit .240 with 19 home runs and 62 RBIs in 384 regular-season at-bats with the Yankees last year. The Yankees had an interest in bringing back Ibanez, who produced a series of heroics during the recent postseason.

In Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles, Ibanez, pinch hitting for ex-Mariner Alex Rodriguez, homered in the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings. He then hit another home run in the 12th to win it, 3-2.

In Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers, Ibanez capped the Yankees’ rally from a four-run deficit in the ninth inning, again hitting a homer to tie the game. However, the Yankees lost to Detroit, 6-4.

Ibanez became the first major-league player to hit three home runs in the ninth inning or later in a single postseason.

Ibanez had two big games against the Mariners last season, belting a three-run homer off Felix Hernandez in a 6-2 win May 11, and coming back the next day with a 2-for-3 effort, including one homer and two RBIs, in another 6-2 win.

Selected by the Mariners in the 36th round of the 1992 amateur draft, Ibanez was with the big club from 1996-2000. After the 2000 season, Ibanez signed as a free agent with Kansas City, where he played from 2001-03, batting .291 with 55 home runs.

Ibanez re-signed with Seattle as a free agent for the 2004 season, and in 2006 hit a team-high 33 home runs and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player. He topped 100 RBIs for Seattle in three straight seasons, 2006-08, with a high of 123 in 2006. After the 2008 season, Ibanez signed with the Phillies as a free agent.

Ibanez made his first All-Star team in 2009 as a member of the Phillies, for whom he hit 34 home runs.

Ibanez, who played 10 seasons in Seattle, batted .284 with 127 home runs in 986 games for the Mariners. He holds the franchise record for most hits in a game, six against the Angels Sept. 22, 2004.

Ibanez ranks among all-time Mariners leaders in nearly every offensive category, including home runs (seventh with 127), RBIs (seventh with 547), hits (eighth with 967), games played (eighth with 986) and slugging percentage (ninth at .464).

Ibanez figures to provide some depth and a left-handed bat to the corner outfield or designated hitter spots, and gives some insurance if center fielder Franklin Gutierrez has continued health problems. In that scenario, Michael Saunders would likely move back to center and leave an opening in left field.

The Mariners also have Casper Wells, Eric Thames, Carlos Peguero and Jason Bay in their current outfield mix.

Since last playing for Seattle, Ibanez averaged 30 doubles, 22 home runs, 80 RBIs and 141 games a season in three years with the Phillies and one with the Yankees.

A 17-year-veteran, Ibanez hit .284 with 66 home runs and 262 RBIs in 467 career games at Safeco Field.

Only three other players have had three stints with the Mariners: Norm Charlton (1993, 1995-97, 2001), Mike Blowers (1992-95, 1997, 1999) and Jeff Nelson ((1992-95, 2001-03, 2005).



  • jafabian

    The M’s could use a veteran presence in the batting order. Jack Z. thought that about the pitcher and brought in George Sherrill. Hope Raul has better luck this season than Sherill did last year. Surprised the Yankees let Raul go as that he had a solid season for them.

    • art thiel

      Problem with a 40 year old is, like Griffey, you never know when the cliff will give way under one’s athleticism.

  • maqman

    Yankee Stadium helped Raul look a bit better than he was, however I’m okay with his signing as he has some power and is always in good condition. He will be a good example for the kids and he can provide a bit of protection for Morales. Given the current logjam at DH probably means he will play LF on occasion, which is a scary thought but he’s got to be better than Peguero. He’ll be a handy weapon to have on the bench for high-leverage situations, he’s proven he can deliver.

    • art thiel

      He couldn’t play LF when he was here before, so I don’t think time has healed that flaw. He’s strictly DH and emergency 1B, and official clubhouse hugger-in-chief.

  • notaboomer

    i like rauuuuul as a player but not as a role model for kids. unless you want your kids to get mouth cancer from chewing tobacco.

    • art thiel

      Maybe it’s sunflower seeds. And if that’s the worst thing you can say, I’d suggest telling your kids not to chew. Might be more influential.

  • Joe Fan

    Yuch!! I see no reason to make this move. Isn’t Bay the dugout “hugger” and veteran presence?

  • Will

    In the old days veteran players often wound down their careers by playing in the minors. So, I suppose Ibanez coming to the Mariners makes sense. Sort of.

  • one174

    I’m kind of torn by this one. I always liked Raoul, and thought they should have kept him in 04. On the other hand, at 40, he is probably about done. He is definitely in keeping with the current theme of the M’s. “Plenty of Ordinary”!!!