General manager Brian Cashman said yesterday that the Yankees “are taking to Raul Ibanez” about returning to New York.
Ibanez came up huge in the postseason, but had a modest regular season performance at age 40, hitting .240 with 19 homers and a .761 OPS in a platoon role that shielded him from tough left-handed pitchers.
Ibanez hasn’t topped an .800 OPS since 2009, but if the Yankees are looking to pinch pennies he’ll certainly be cheap to re-sign.
That would also mean that the Yankees’ four outfielders and designated hitters–Ibanez, Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner–were all left-handed hitters, so not surprisingly George King of the New York Post speculates that Cashman is pursuing various right-handed-hitting outfielders to pair with them.
Earlier this week the Yankees were linked to Vernon Wells of the Angels and I supposed someone can technically be a right-handed hitter even if they’ve ceased hitting years ago.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.