On Saturday, the Seattle Mariners signed Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $2.75 million deal, with incentives adding a potential $1.25 million to the contract. It'll be Ibanez's third stint with the Mariners during his career, which began during a four game stint in 1996 with Seattle.
The team just acquired a full-time DH in Kendrys Morales, who joins their other full-time DH in Jesus Montero. Unless of course, the plan is to let Morales play first base and send Justin Smoak packing...but then you still have two DHs, with Montero likely getting some playing time behind the plate while Ibanez plays DH. A platoon between the two would actually make sense, due to Ibanez's career history of struggling against southpaws and Montero bashing lefties last year.
What I think Seattle is going to go for with Ibanez is some sort of super platoon. With a righthander starter, John Jaso will likely start behind the plate, with Ibanez DHs and Morales at first base. When a lefty is on the hill...well, the Mariners are screwed, because Morales, Jaso, and Ibanez all can't hit lefties. So the Mariners have five players for three positions: Smoak (who can't hit), Montero (who is awful defensively and can't hit righties), Jaso (who can't hit lefties), Morales (who can't hit lefties), and Ibanez (who can't play the field capably or hit lefties).
The Mariners will actually have a pretty solid lineup against righties, due to the strength of Jaso, Ibanez, and Morales against them. However, against lefties, it's a complete different story. Those three players have all historically struggled against them, with Montero as the only lock in the lineup for the catcher/first base/DH trio. The team could give Casper Wells, an outfielder who has brutalized lefties over his career, some playing time at DH or first, but that would result in more playing time for Jason Bay, and I don't think that's something that anyone really wants to see.
Also in the Seatlte outfield, oft-injured Franklin Gutierrez has a much more pronounced advantage towards lefties than righties, just like Wells. If the Mariners are potentially thinking of playing Ibanez in the outfield as a platoon partner to Wells or Gutierrez...oh man, get the GIFs ready. Ibanez's defense in left field has been a tire fire over the last few seasons of his career, and he should only be wearing a glove when he's playing catch at the park with one of his kids. If you assume the Mariners bring a five man bench into the season, there's a very real possibility that this team could have seven players with massive platoon splits on their 25-man roster, with third baseman Kyle Seager joining all of the players I mentioned above.
Your 2013 Seattle Mariners, ladies and gentlemen. Don't forget your popcorn.
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