New York Yankees: Raul Ibanez Has Been the $1.1 Million Bargain of 2012

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IMay 11, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08:  Raul Ibanez #27 of the New York Yankees hits a two run homerun in the forth-inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on May 8, 2012 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

When Jorge Posada retired from the Yankees after the 2011 season, there was a lot of question marks surrounding the designated hitter spot.

At first, Jesus Montero was penciled in to be the DH. That was until he was traded to the Mariners in the Michael Pineda deal.

The Yankees wanted to go with a temporary solution for the spot. Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero all came up as possibilities.

But in the end, the Yankees went with Raul Ibanez, signing him to a one-year deal worth $1.1 million back on February 20.

A lot of people didn't like the move because of Ibanez's age, but I was one of the few that was all for the deal.

On the day the Yankees signed Ibanez, I thought it was the right move for the team to make, and I still feel that way three months later, and here was an excerpt from the story back in February:

Ibanez could also start in left field if the Yankees if the team wants to sit Brett Gardner for a game as well.

Signing Ibanez was the right move for the Yankees to make. Ibanez brings versatility to the team, as he can play more than one position, aside from just being the DH.

Brett Gardner has been on the disabled list with an elbow injury since the end of April, and Ibanez has had to step in to play left field and he's held his own.

He's also played right field as well aside from being the DH, especially when Nick Swisher missed a few days with an injury or needs a day off.

Thus far, the Yankees small gamble on Ibanez has been paying off.

Ibanez is hitting .268 with six home runs and 19 RBI while playing three different positions in the Yankees lineup.

What Ibanez has given the Yankees is a lot of big hits. He hit a grand slam on Opening Day against the Tampa Bay Rays.

He hit the go-ahead ground-rule RBI double against the Orioles back in early April that propelled the Yankees to an important win.

And most recently, in Friday night's game against the Seattle Mariners, Ibanez hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning off Felix Hernandez that gave the Yankees a 4-2 lead.

Not too bad for a guy who is about to turn 40-years old next month and people felt was washed up last season in Philadelphia.

Now, I know it's only May and who knows if Ibanez can hold up the entire season, but early on, he's been a big part of the Yankees lineup.

If the Yankees have any chance of contending and competing for a spot in the postseason, they will need Ibanez to continue to get big hits and come up with huge home runs, just like he did on Friday night.

I think it's safe to say that for the $1.1 million the Yankees are paying Ibanez, he's been an absolute bargain in 2012.

While trading for Pineda and giving up Montero didn't look like the most genius move Brian Cashman ever made, I think he got it right again with another low-cost free agent in Ibanez.

It will prove to be an even bigger bargain if Ibanez can put up anywhere near the numbers that he did while with the Phillies.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.