Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
So Why Wouldn’t the Indians Keep Raburn?
While all signs point to why the Indians should pick up Ryan Raburn’s 2016 option, there are a few red flags to suggest they shouldn’t. For one, Raburn is no spring chicken as he will turn 35 next April. One has to question how much he has left in the tank. There’s also the matter of the “Odd Year Raburn” theory that fans love to talk about. The theory is that Raburn is only good in odd years (i.e., 2013 & 2015) and is terrible in even years (i.e., 2012 & 2014).
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While over the last four years this does hold true, but as shown above he was actually quite good in 2010, an even numbered year. What has more been the issue for Raburn is health. In 2012 and 2014 Raburn dealt with injuries that really limited him on the field. He was hurt in spring training last year and never really got going. As with his age though, it’s hard to count on Raburn being healthy in 2016…
There’s also the matter of Chris Johnson who, like Raburn, is best when used in a platoon/bench role. Johnson also hits left-handed pitching better and there may not be room for both on the bench depending on how the Indians construct their roster. Only four bench spots (or maybe only three) with one being taken by the backup catcher (presumably Roberto Perez) and one by the backup middle infielder (presumably Jose Ramirez, Zach Walters, or a free agent). That leaves two spots and one can also figure that Abraham Almonte has a good chance of being on the bench as the backup outfielder rather than the everyday center-fielder (though that’s a discussion for another day).
Johnson, unlike Raburn, is guaranteed $7.5M in 2016 plus an additional $9M in 2018. Unless the Indians can trade Johnson or decide to make him an everyday starter, he’s going to be on the bench, making Raburn’s 2016 roster fit a bit redundant, especially when one considers his lack of versatility and poor defensive ability.
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