UPDATE: Wednesday, Dec. 26 at 6:24 ET by Richard Langford
It's official. Ibanez is back with the franchise where he began his pro career. The Associated Press reports that the Mariners officially announced they signed Ibanez to a $2.75 million, one-year deal.
They also add, "the deal allows Ibanez to earn an additional $1.25 million in performance bonuses."
---end of update---
According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners and Ibanez have reached an agreement:
Source: Ibanez in agreement with #Mariners.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 23, 2012
Sports Radio 66 WFAN reporter Sweeny Murti announced the length of the deal:
Raul Ibanez has agreed to a 1-year deal with the Mariners.— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) December 23, 2012
Ibanez is 40 years old, but he showed in last year's playoffs that he can still deliver big home runs when he hit three clutch homers for the New York Yankees. He may not provide 162 games' worth of production, but he's still a savvy player.
He hit .240 with 19 home runs and 62 RBI in 384 regular-season at-bats with the Yankees last year. He doesn't provide consistent contact at the dish anymore, but the pop is still there.
Ibanez probably won't see much time in the outfield, but he could platoon with Jesus Montero as a designated hitter. If nothing else, he will provide leadership, a solid bench bat and a possible fourth or fifth outfielder depending on the pitching matchup.
He played with Seattle as a rookie in 1996 and stayed there through 2000 before heading to Kansas City for three years. Then he returned to the Mariners from 2004 to 2008 before taking his bat to Philadelphia.
His familiarity with the organization, and with the city, will help him make a quick adjustment this time around.
It would make sense if this is Ibanez's final major league team. His career would have come full circle, and it seems like a fitting place to end things.
Before he hangs it up, though, he will be expected to provide some excitement in the Mariners' offensively challenged lineup next season.