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.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.