Former Cleveland Indians outfielder Ryan Raburn has agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies, Jon Heyman is reporting. Raburn is the last remaining Indians free agent to sign a deal with a new team, and he will be making only $500,000 less than former-Indians teammate Mike Aviles, who signed with the Detroit Tigers earlier in the offseason.
Raburn spent three years as a member of the Indians, two of which were pretty great -- he was worth 2.4 fWAR and 1.4 fWAR in 2013 and 2015, respectively. In 2014, however, he was worth -1.3 fWAR and slashed a measly .200/.250/.297 in 212 plate appearances. All throughout Raburn's career he has had this same path, swinging wildly from being a great hitter to terrible year-to-year as one of the league's most volatile hitters.
Last season was Raburn's first being strictly platooned against left-handed pitchers and it worked to great effect. He was one of the best lefty mashers in the league, if not the best lefty masher in the league. In 70 games against left-handers (151 PA), Raburn hit 24 extra base hits, including eight home runs, and had an isolated power rating of .265. Only a handful of qualified batters had a better ISO against lefties than Raburn in 2015, and he was 7th in slugging percentage.
The Indians had the ability to pick up Raburn's $3 million option at the end of last season, but they opted to pay his $100,000 buyout and letting him walk instead. President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said the Indians front office wanted "more flexibility" heading into the offseason. The door was not officially shut on re-signing Raburn when the Indians declined his option, they just did not want to pay him $3 million before looking at other options.
Seeing that Raburn signed for half that amount, it looks like a sound financial decision from the Indians. They also likely saved money by getting similar outfielders on minor league deals. Someone like Collin Cowgill might not be the lefty masher that Raburn is, but he could make up the value difference with much better defense and the ability to play in center field.
Whether or not the Indians made the right decision remains to be seen, but Raburn should have no problems hitting moonshots out of Coors Field off left-handed pitchers.
So long, Ryan.