The Seattle Mariners made a very smart move this offseason, bringing back outfielder Raul Ibanez for a third stint with the team, signing him to a one year deal. Ibanez, a 17 year MLB veteran had a very productive season with the New York Yankees in 2012, hitting 19 home runs in 130 games, primarily playing in left field.
Even if Ibanez does not produce at all on the field, he will be a huge fan-favorite, as always. Since the Mariners won 116 games in 2001, they have seen the biggest attendance drop in the history of North American professional sports. So bringing in a player like Ibanez will help with the Mariners attendance problems.
Although Ibanez may be on the decline, he still has a lot to offer. Against right-handed pitchers in his career, Ibanez has hit for an average of .284. Yankees manager Joe Girardi took advantage of that, as 360 of his 425 plate appearances last year were against righties.
Ibanez did see his average against righties drop down to .248, but he hit all of his 19 regular season home runs last season against right-handed pitching. Although one of his most notable pinch-hit home runs in the 2012 playoffs was off of Baltimore Orioles LHP Brian Matusz, Ibanez only had 12 hits against southpaws in the regular season.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge has many possibilities for the outfield going into 2013, with Michael Saunders and Mike Morse already locked into starting spots, players like Jason Bay, Franklin Gutierrez and Casper Wells will all be fighting for a spot along with Ibanez.
The 40-year-old veteran has an advantage though, as he is the only left-handed hitter among those three. Ibanez can have a big impact as platoon outfielder or designated hitter this year if he continues to dominate right-handed pitching the way he has throughout his career.