12/01/08 5:30 PM EST
Mariners offer Ibanez salary arbitration
Club secures compensation if free agent signs elsewhere
By Jim Street / MLB.com
"But to get into discussions [regarding] a long-term deal, that is something that would have to be discussed further."Ibanez led the Mariners in RBIs last season with 110 and ranked second with 23 home runs, hiking his five-year totals to 113 home runs and 489 RBIs during his second tour of duty with Seattle. Ibanez, 36, said on the final day of the regular season that he would give the Mariners "final right of refusal" before signing with another organization. The Cubs are among the teams that have shown interest in signing Ibanez. The Cubs are looking for a left-handed bat to hit in the middle of the order, and Ibanez has been mentioned as one possibility. "Raul can hit, there's no question," Cubs manager Lou Piniella recently told the Chicago Sun-Times. "He's a professional bat, and he's that type of hitter that we're alluding to. ... And he's a great guy, no question. I like the guy. He's a professional hitter; he plays hard; he's a good player." Piniella's opinion of Ibanez has done a flip-flop in less than 10 years. When Ibanez was in the Mariners organization the first time -- mostly during Piniella's highly successful tenure as the Seattle manager from 1993-2002 -- he saw only limited action. Piniella always had doubts about Ibanez's offensive ability -- resulting in the outfielder becoming a free agent prior to the 2001 season. Bloomquist, who has spent his entire career with the Mariners, batting .263 with six home runs and 98 RBIs in 540 games while playing seven positions, probably will sign with a National League club, while Cairo, who played in 108 games last season as a backup infielder/outfielder, could wind up playing for his 10th MLB organization during a 17-year professional career.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.