Multiple sources are reporting that the Phillies have signed outfielder Raul Ibanez to a three-year deal worth approximately $30 million, pending a physical. Ibanez was one of the most sought-after free agents on the market this year, with about half the teams in baseball expressing interest in here. The signing of Ibanez effectively ends Pat Burrell's career as a Phillie, and all but solidifies the Phillies Opening Night lineup.
For much of this still-young off-season, it appeared that the Phillies were looking for a right-handed batter, such as Rocco Baldelli, who could play in a left-field platoon with Matt Stairs and/or Geoff Jenkins, who both bat lefty.
Now, it appears that Ibanez, a left-handed batter himself, will be the only regular left-fielder. Unless Ibanez or Jayson Werth fall into a slump, the Phillies aren't going to have much work for Jenkins or Stairs.
Stairs is a fine choice for a fourth outfielder, but Jenkins is scheduled to make $6.75 million in this, his contract year, and he was signed not even a year ago. With Stairs and Greg Dobbs (when he isn't starting) ahead on the left-handed pinch-hitting depth chart, Jenkins is highly unlikely to get many at bats next year (the same way he didn't get many at bats during this past September). If Jenkins can draw any interest from other clubs, the Phillies might try to trade him.
Another implication to note is that this signing will leave the Phillies with a lefty-heavy lineup. Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Ibanez, and Greg Dobbs all are left-handed batsmen and will likely see a lot of starts in 2009. This could result in the Phillies struggling even more against left-handed pitchers than they have in years past.
It will be interesting to see if the Phillies will still be able to go after a big-name starter such as Derek Lowe after signing Ibanez. Phillies fans are no doubt hoping that the Phillies will raise their payroll a bit after bringing home a title.
So, B/R readers and writers, what do you think of this signing? Is Ibanez the right choice in left? Is he an upgrade over Burrell? Would you have rather seen the Phillies focus their efforts on other free agents?