According to a press release Wednesday, ESPN has hired former MLB player Raul Ibanez to join its Baseball Tonight team, contributing as an analyst on selected games and appearing on SportsCenter. The hiring comes just a week after ESPN fired former MLB pitcher and Baseball Tonight analyst Curt Schilling for his comments and promotion of a controversial anti-transgender meme on his Facebook page.
Ibanez spent 19 seasons as an MLB player with the Seattle Mariners, Kansas City Royals, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees. He hit .272 with 305 home runs and 1,207 RBI for his career. He was also an All-Star in 2009 and hit 20 or more home runs eight times in his career and 100 or more RBI four times. Toward the end of his career, Ibañez hung around as the motivating, veteran type. During that period, he was lauded for his leadership and personality. The 43 year-old, who retired after the 2014 season, has served since February as a special assistant to Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Ibanez was set to debut on ESPN during this week’s Wednesday Night Baseball broadcast at 8 p.m. ET. He’s also been an analyst for Fox Sports. His experience in the game and reputation as an intelligent player and media personality should bode well for him in his new analyst role. The people he’s worked with in and outside of the game all seem to think he’s one of the nicest guys in baseball. As long as he stays away from posting memes on social media, ESPN will most likely agree with that evaluation.
Main Photo: KANSAS CITY, MO – AUGUST 10: Raul Ibanez #18 of the Kansas City Royals bats against the San Francisco Giants on August 10, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Kansas City Royals defeated the San Francisco Giants 7-4. (Photo by John Williamson/MLB Photos via Getty Images)