Raul Ibanez has agreed to a one-year, $2.75-million deal for his third stint with the Mariners, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press Saturday night, leaving the Yankees with one fewer candidate at DH.
Ibanez, 40, hit .240 with 19 homers for the 2012 Yankees. He had signed to be part of a DH platoon, but an injury to leftfielder Brett Gardner pushed him into the outfield for 76 games.
According to a source, the Yankees had interest in bringing Ibanez back for another season, though the two sides never progressed to negotiations. The Rangers and Phillies reportedly showed interest in signing Ibanez, who is a .278 hitter with 271 homers in 17 seasons.
The Yankees have been focused on adding a righthanded hitter to balance out a lefty-heavy outfield. Ibanez's departure could force them to find a new DH, too. Eduardo Nunez could emerge as a fit.
In parts of three big-league seasons, Nunez is a .272 hitter, and the organization has long valued his bat. He began last season as the team's utilityman but struggled so badly in the field that he was sent to the minors. The Yankees then played him only at shortstop in hopes he could develop at the position.
Ibanez played with the Mariners from 1996 to 2000 and from 2004-08. He helped the Phillies win the NL pennant in 2009 and stayed until 2011 before signing a one-year deal with the Yankees just before spring training. Ibanez had a $1.1-million base salary last season and earned another $2.05 million in performance bonuses.
Ibanez's lefthanded swing suited Yankee Stadium well. Including the playoffs, he hit five home runs that tied the score and eight that put the Yankees ahead, according to STATS.
Ibanez homered twice after entering as a pinch hitter on Sept. 22 in a 10-9, 14-inning win over Oakland. He pinch hit a tying homer against Boston in the ninth on Oct. 2 and singled in the winning run in the 12th.
With the Yankees down by a run in the ninth inning of ALDS Game 3 against the Orioles, Ibanez pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez and hit a tying homer. He homered again in the 12th to win it. That made him the first major-league player to homer twice in a postseason game he didn't start.
He also hit a tying two-out, two-run homer in a four-run ninth in ALCS Game 1 against the Tigers before the Yankees lost in the 12th.