Dodgers 2014 Off-Season Free Agent Profile: Raul Ibañez
With teams reflecting on their 2013 season and making decisions for 2014, we take a look at some players that the Dodgers may consider signing.
Today we look at a left-handed slugger that could join a contender in search of his first World Series ring:
Ibañez is a 41-year-old outfielder that spent 2013 with the Seattle Mariners. In his major league career, Ibañez has 156 home runs and a career batting average of .279 in 18 seasons.
The left-handed Ibañez played 124 games for the Mariners, starting 98 games in the outfield and hit 29 home runs. That total was the third-best home run total in his career. He also added 65 RBI and 20 doubles while hitting .242 in 454 at-bats while tying Ted Williams for most home runs in a season by a player over the age of 40.
Over the last three seasons, Ibañez is averaging 23 home runs, 23 doubles and 70 RBI with the Mariners and New York Yankees. He can still hit the ball for power, even when playing half his games in the pitcher-friendly Safeco Park last season where he hit 17 of his 29 home runs. Regardless of where he’s played, Ibañez had always hit above-average for power and could be a big bat off the bench for the Dodgers.
Even though he bats left-handed, Ibañez doesn’t historically struggle against left-handed pitchers. Last season, he hit .242 against right-handers and .244 against lefties. In 127 at-bats against lefties, Ibañez hit eight home runs and five doubles. Over his career, he’s hitting .261 against left-handers compared to .281 against righties. The fact that he can’t be eliminated with a call to the bullpen by an opposing manager adds to his value as a power bat.
Ibañez is an 18-year veteran and has a presence in the clubhouse that can help younger players. The ability to play well into his 40s would gain the respect of the locker room and also would provide a professional attitude that the Dodger players could emulate. The Dodgers have been on intent on bringing in veterans with similar attitudes such as Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hairston, Jr., and Michael Young.
No matter how impressive his 2013 season was, Ibañez will be 41 heading into the 2014 season. His age hasn’t slowed his production yet, but makes him more susceptible to a drop in numbers. The former All-Star has kept himself in incredible shape and should be able to withstand the rigors of another season; however, eventually, every player fails the test of time.
Last year, Ibañez started 118 games for the Mariners and played well enough to warrant a starting position again. If the Dodgers were to sign Ibañez, it would most likely be to become a backup and pinch-hitter. Ibañez may believe that he still deserves to be an everyday player and not settle for anything less.
The 41-year-old played a majority of his games in the outfield last season, but Ibañez was worth negative-13 runs as a left fielder. He would be better suited as a designated hitter somewhere, which would limit him to an American League team. Although Ibañez may still believe he can play the field, it’s highly likely that he ends up serving as a DH next season.
At this point in his career, Ibañez is simply a one-year deal player until he falters or retires. Last season, he earned $2.75 million on a one-year deal. Based on his production, Ibañez could command up to $5 million for another season, but teams may be skeptical of a 41-year-old player that produces less than he did in the past.
Chances Dodgers Sign Him: 5%
Ibañez seems destined for an AL team and a DH spot next season, something the Dodgers can’t offer. While he would be a welcome addition to the bench in Los Angeles, the Dodgers like to bring in bench players that can provide flexibility and strong defense.
The Dodgers have a crowded outfield situation and unless it’s resolved by trade, will already have an outfielder with pop that can come off the bench. If one of the outfielders is traded, Ibañez may be worth a second look as the fourth outfielder and late-game pinch-hitter.
Look for Ibañez to find a job in the American League, likely with a contender, and make the transition from outfielder to primary DH.
In case you missed it-Dodgers Decline Mark Ellis And Chris Capuano Options