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Indians set to sign utility player Ryan Raburn

Indians set to sign utility player Ryan Raburn
January 20, 2013
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The Cleveland Indians have signed utility-man Ryan Raburn to a minor league contract, with an invitation to big-league camp, according to CBS baseball writer, Jon Heyman via twitter. Yesterday, MLB’s Tribe writer, Jordan Bastian, broke the news that the Indians were nearing a deal, with official word likely coming sometime next week.

Raburn has played his entire career with the Detroit Tigers, and can fill multiple roles if he’s healthy. Throughout his career, he’s played 265 games in left, 143 game at second, 114 games in right, 35 games in center and 33 games at third. His career slash-line is a solid .256/.311/.430, and he should give the Indians some potential depth heading into spring training.

Raburn’s best seasons were in 2009 and 2010. In those two seasons, he hit a combined .284, with 31 homers and 107 RBI in 226 games. His numbers tapered off a bit in 2011, with his average dropping to .256, but he still managed 14 homers and 49 RBI.

Raburn led the Tigers with six homers during spring training heading into the 2012 season, but after starting off the season in a massive slump and hitting only .146 during the first two months, he was sent to their Triple A affiliate in Toledo.

The Tigers would recall Raburn in mid-June, but things certainly didn’t improve. Raburn went on the DL at the beginning of August for a sprained right thumb, then again in the middle of September for a strained right quadriceps. He finished the season hitting only .171.

He wasn’t on the Tigers postseason roster, and he was ultimately released by the Tigers in November.

Raburn has some history at Progressive field. Former Indians' shortstop, Jhonny Peralta, hit a three-run, inside-the-park homer in the Indians' first game back after the 2010 all-star break. Raburn inadvertantly aided Peralta when he went crashing through the bullpen door, allowing the ball to bound away as Raburn fell into the pen. You can watch Raburn's misfortune here.

In a bit of irony, two weeks later, Peralta would be dealt to the Tigers.

Raburn certainly isn’t a player that’s going to be challenging for a starting role in the infield or the outfield, but his versatility and potential bat off the bench could give him the lead in making the roster heading into spring.

If Raburn can right the ship from last year, and prove that it was the exception, and not a trend, he could be a valuable, low-risk, minor league signing. It’s certainly nothing earth-shattering, as the Indians are clearly down to their last free-agent dollars.

Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as  the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at jpete@indiansprospectinsider.com.

User Comments

art
January 20, 2013 - 4:19 PM EST
A lot of the players being brought in this offseason have very high strikeout rates, not sure this isn't going to become an issue (esp with runners on base) as the season unfolds.
John L.
January 20, 2013 - 1:27 PM EST
Its a good cheap depth move and we will see more of these signings as we get closer to spring training, just like Jose Lopez last year. Its going to be important to have a decent infielder on the bench if they decide to go with a rotation at Designated Hitter. If that happens you figure Mike Aviles is going to be getting a lot of playing time all over the diamond while the regulars take a "break" at DH. If Aviles is in the game and the infielder he's replacing is DHing that day you need another infield option. And I don't see that player being Juan Diaz or Cord Phelps (although I like both players they will probably be manning 2B and SS together in Columbus). As it stands now I think Raburn and Yan Gomes have the edge but if they sign someone like Hafner or Thome to be the prototypical DH then all of this goes out the window and Aviles will be the utility infielder off the bench.

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