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12/13/08 1:25 AM EST
Phillies, Ibanez agree on three-year deal
Slugging left fielder will replace free agent Burrell's production
By Marty Noble / MLB.com
The left-handed-hitting portion of the Phillies' batting order, already quite imposing, is likely to become more formidable in 2009 and beyond. The World Series champions have replaced the power of Pat Burrell with the more consistent -- and left-handed -- swing of free agent Raul Ibanez. The Associated Press reported Friday night that the Phillies have agreed to a three-year contract with Ibanez, pending his passing a physical examination. The contract, the report said, is worth $31.5 million. A Phillies spokesman told MLB.com earlier Friday that discussions with Ibanez were ongoing, but nothing was finalized. Ibanez, 36, is to become the Phillies' everyday left fielder. His presence officially eliminates the chance of Burrell, also a free agent, returning. Ibanez had drawn interest from a number of clubs -- the Mets, Cubs, Angels and Braves among them. But the Phillies reportedly intensified their effort to sign him Thursday after they learned the Angels had been negotiating with Ibanez to serve as a left-handed run producer should Mark Teixeira sign elsewhere. Ibanez played the past five seasons with the Mariners. There he had become a favorite of Pat Gillick who became the Phillies general manager and who now is serving as a consultant for the Phillies. He batted .293 with 23 home runs, 110 RBIs, a .358 on-base percentage and a .472 slugging percentage in 2008. Burrell, the Phillies' biggest right-handed power threat, averaged 30-plus homers a year for the past four seasons. During last season's World Series run, Burrell hit 33 homers with 86 RBIs in 157 games. He added three more homers during the postseason. According to The AP report, Ibanez will receive a $2 million signing bonus, payable this year, a $6.5 million salary next season and $11.5 million each in 2010 and 2011.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. Barry M. Bloom contributed. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.