Report: Mariners have “serious interest” in Raul Ibanez

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The Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales from the Angels this week in exchange for Jason Vargas, but they aren’t done trying to add bats.

George A. King III of the New York Post reports that the Mariners have “serious interest” in Raul Ibanez. It’s a bit of an odd fit on the surface, as the club already has a bit of a log jam between DH, first base and catcher, but King speculates that Jesus Montero would get the chance to be the regular catcher while Morales would play first base. Justin Smoak could become trade bait under this scenario, as Ibanez would project as the regular DH and occasional outfielder. And don’t forget the M’s also have John Jaso, who is quietly coming off a very nice season.

King hears that the Yankees have kept in touch with Ibanez’s agent, but they are currently focused on trying to add a right-handed hitting outfielder to complement Curtis Granderson, Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner, who all hit from the left side. Scott Hairston remains a possibility, but they are hesitant to give him a multi-year deal.

Ibanez, 40, batted .240/.308/.453 with 19 home runs, 62 RBI and a .761 OPS in 130 games this past season. He was originally drafted by the Mariners back in 1992 and had two different stints with the big club, first from 1996-2000 and then from 2004-2008. The Rangers and Phillies are among the other clubs who have expressed interest.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.