There are a number of free agent DHs out there. Rumor has it that Johnny Damon desperately wants back with the Yankees. Matsui, Vlad, Derrek Lee, Fukodome, and Raul Ibanez are others. Heck, Juan Pierre is out there (not that anyone would want the all-speed, no-power Pierre as a DH).
For a time, it’s been reported that the Yanks only had $2MM left to spend…on a DH and also on another backup infielder (Eric Chavez return?). Brian Cashman was suggesting trading a pitcher (dumping A.J.’s contract, eating some $$$, thus freeing up $$$) to acquire a bat. If not A.J., then Hughes or a youngster not named Banuelos or Betances (Warren, Phelps, Mitchell).
The tide could be turning, however. Now, the best thing may just be to wait out the above, aging list and to see whose salary demands drops all the way down to the level that Cashman and the rest of the Yankees’ hierarchy feels comfortable with.
Today the N.Y. Post reports that the Yankees could have interest in Raul Ibanez. Even ESPN’s Buster Olney chimed in on Twitter:
Raul Ibanez would be a good fit for the Yankees: they’d get him cheaply, he’s got a nice swing for the park,can play RF-LF, and a great guy.
Ibanez could even play 1B. (Swisher can, too, also Chavez if the Yanks re-sign him). Ibanez has been working with hitting guru Rudy Jaramillo, and thinks that he has fixed holes in his swing that led him to hit just .245 last year (.289 OBP). In the bandbox that is CBP, Ibanez still had 20 HR and 84 RBI. But his OPS+ dropped to a 91. Of course, Yankee Stadium’s RF would be a nice target for Ibanez’ lefty swing. Also obvious is that Yankee Stadium would NOT be as generous as CBP was to Ibanez if he drove the ball the other way.
If the deal is a Kuroda-like deal, for one year only, then I can see getting Ibanez (or, for that matter, Damon or Matsui). The concern is that Ibanez turns 40 in June. Heck, he’s only 9 1/2 months younger than the just-retired Posada.
Ibanez had a lower B.A. than Damon or Matsui (I’ll leave out the righty hitting DHs, like Vlad & Lee for now), and is older than both of them. Of course, Damon as the most speed of the trio. Ibanez also had more HR and RBI than either Matsui or Damon did.
I don’t know if the Yanks are favoring one over the other or if Ca$hman is just waiting for one of the trio’s price to drop into his range so he could pounce on the first one who becomes affordable. It appears that Ibanez, a .280 hitter, could (and I’m taking his age into account) post a .265 average, 17-25 HR, and say, 75 RBI. Which would be just fine for what Ibanez probably would be in the Yankees’ lineup—the #7 hitter.
Those are numbers that Posada (.285-21-81 in 111 games in 2009, OPS+ 125) would put up in that spot in the batting order. From 1998-2007, Jorge averaged 136 g., .279-21-84…then throw in the 2009 numbers, and you can see that those are numbers very similar to what you would hope to get from Ibanez. Ibanez probably would walk a bit less than Jorge did.
For his career, Ibanez is a .280 hitter, 252 HR (same total as Bobby Murcer), with an OPS+ of 112. He was an All-Star once (2009) and drew MVP consideration twice, with Seattle in 2006 and 2008 (finishing 21st and 20th).
The question with all the available DH’s is this: how much is left in the tank?
Update: A few hours after I mentioned Juan Pierre above, he signed a minor league deal with the Phillies.