The Cleveland Indians signed OF’s Ryan Raburn and Ben Francisco to minor-league deals with an invitation to Spring Training. I like both of these signings because the Indians need more depth at the major league level, especially in the outfield.
Rayburn has spent his entire major league career with the Detroit Tigers. He pretty much splits his time between the outfield and second base with much better defensive numbers in the outfield. He was a 1.5 to 2.0 WAR player due to his versatility and pretty good power. He was below replacement level in 2012, which led to being signed to a minor league deal. He has not had good on-base skills since 2010, mainly due to a decrease in walk rate and line drive percentage. He fits in as an end of the bench player who would be the fifth outfielder and will only play with the Indians this year if there are injuries to two or three other outfielders.
Francisco was originally an Indians draft pick in 2002 and made his debut with the team in 2007. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in the Cliff Lee deal in 2009. He has bounced around MLB since, playing with three different teams in 2012, and basically being a replacement player. He is entering the season at the age of 31, and is hoping to stick as a fourth or fifth outfielder because he is a right-handed hitter. I don’t think he makes the roster, but he is a good depth option to have to start the year in AAA.
Overall, these signings shouldn’t mean much if the Indians have any hopes to contend this year, but they also come at almost no cost and it is easier to plug one of these two into the lineup if there are a rash of injuries for a week or two this year.
We will continue with our off-season in review later this week. I won’t be touching on the Nick Swisher signing since it has been covered extensively on Rant Sports already. I’m looking forward to pitchers and catchers reporting soon and we will be rolling out previews by position shortly.