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Cleveland Indians decline Ryan Raburn's $3 million option

He will get his $100,000 and become a free agent this off-season.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Raburn is officially set to be a free agent this off-season, as the Cleveland Indians have opted to decline his team option that would have kept him in Cleveland one more year for a cool $3 million. The Indians will instead pay his $100,000 buyout and he will walk after a 1.4 fWAR season in 2015.

This news is either a major surprise or a no-brainer, depending which side of Great Raburn Debate of 2015 you fall on. He was either the lefty masher that the team needed to compete going forward or a liability who could only do one thing well approaching his mid-30s that is not worth the $3 million option.

Regardless of which camp you fall under, or how much you value him going forward, it is difficult to argue he was not at least effective when he played in 2015. In 37 games for the Tribe, primarily in a platoon role with fellow ex-Indian (and now free agent) David Murphy, Raburn hit for a .301/.393/.543 slash with eight home runs and sported a career-high 11.4% walk rate.

Despite some hints that he should have been a platoon bat his whole career, this is the first season where he played strictly against left-handed pitching and it worked to great success. We still do not know if he was injured or something else prohibited him from getting significant playing time towards the end of the season, but for whatever reason manager Terry Francona opted to play Jerry Sands over Raburn in many instances where the 34-year-old would have made much more sense.

With Raburn gone, the Indians lefty-heavy lineup will still be an issue going forward. In 2015, the lineup did not struggle much more against lefties than righties, as you may expect, but they will still be looking for that mythical "right-handed power bat" that is so valuable in today’s pitcher-friendly league.

By the sounds of it, according to a quote from Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti, Cleveland will indeed be addressing the lineup situation sometime this off-season, but committing $3 million to Raburn this early did not make sense. Ben Zobrist here we come!