Moving to fill big holes in the middle of their lineup and left field, the world champion Philadelphia Phillies have reached an agreement with free agent Raul Ibanez on a three-year, $31 million deal, according to sources.
The deal is pending a physical examination.
The Phillies had targeted the now former Seattle Mariner since parting ways with slugger Pat Burrell. Ibanez, whose long list of suitors included the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Angels, New York Mets and Atlanta Braves, among others, hit .293 in 2008 with a .358 on-base percentage, .472 slugging percentage, 23 homers and 110 RBI.
Though he's 36, he plays younger than his years.
"He's everything you want as far as professionalism, he hits 20 homers consistently, 80-to-100 RBIs," one major-league scout said. "Five years ago, people thought that maybe he should stop playing the outfield. But he's continued to work at it to where he makes most of the routine plays.
"Plus, he's a great guy. Just a super human being. He can hit anywhere in the lineup, three, four or five, and he's a tough out."
The Phillies are hoping that perhaps Ibanez brings another benefit, too. He's good friends with pitcher Jamie Moyer dating back to their days as teammates in Seattle. The Phillies still haven't signed Moyer because of a disagreement over salary. Now that they've got a left fielder and have a firm grasp of how much is left in their budget, and given the presence of Ibanez, they're hoping they can reach an agreement with the lefty.