The Yankees are in “serious discussions” with Raul Ibanez

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It’s almost closing time for MLB’s Hot Stove and folks are beginning to get desperate. We’re seeing minor league deals all over the place and players who once were seeking multi-year contracts are now settling for one-year deals. Many speculated that the Yankees would be in the market for a hitter after trading Jesus Montero to the Mariners in the Michael Pineda deal, but they’ve understandably played things pretty close to the vest in hopes of getting a bargain.

Well, it appears they are finally ready to strike.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Yankees are in “serious discussions” with free agent Raul Ibanez, who is willing to take less money to sign with them than he would make elsewhere.

Ibanez, who will turn 40 in June, batted .245/.289/.419 with 20 home runs, 84 RBI and a .707 OPS over 575 plate appearances with the Phillies last season. He had a .747 OPS against right-handed pitching.

This seems to jibe with a report by Buster Olney of ESPN.com earlier this afternoon in which he said the Yankees are considering adding a left-handed bat and could sign Ibanez, Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui within the week. Whoever they sign would likely share at-bats with the righty-hitting Andruw Jones out of the DH spot.

Fair enough, but don’t the Yankees already have enough veterans they could shuffle in and out of the DH spot along with Jones? Olney writes that the Yankees would likely look at alternatives prior to the trade deadline if they aren’t getting sufficient production out of the DH spot, so I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have options in the interim. Especially if they are on the cheap.

Report: Red Sox sign J.D. Martinez

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Update (5:16 PM ET): ESPN’s Pedro Gomez is reporting that the deal is final.

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Red Sox and outfielder J.D. Martinez are close to a deal. He takes care to note that the deal is not done yet and the details are not known yet.

Martinez, 30, entered the offseason as the top free agent hitter. Last season, between the Tigers and Diamondbacks, he hit a lusty .303/.376/.690 with 45 home runs and 104 RBI in 489 plate appearances. He missed the first 33 games of the season with a sprained right foot; one wonders what his numbers might’ve been like if he hadn’t been injured.

The Red Sox were the team most strongly linked to Martinez throughout the offseason, despite the relatively slow-moving market. Martinez said he wants to play in the outfield and the Red Sox are currently spoken for at all three positions with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley, and Mookie Betts. Hanley Ramirez is also penciled in at DH. Should the Martinez deal become official, the Red Sox may try to trade Bradley and move Benintendi to center field. If Martinez is willing to concede his outfield wishes, the Red Sox could slot him in at DH and move Ramirez to first base.

The AL East is shaping up to be a familiar two-horse race between the Red Sox and Yankees. The addition of Martinez, in a way, answers the Yankees’ addition of Giancarlo Stanton.