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Indians officially sign Ben Francisco and Ryan Raburn

Indians officially sign Ben Francisco and Ryan Raburn
January 21, 2013
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Today the Indians announced that they have officially signed infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn and outfielder Ben Francisco to minor league contracts with an invite as non-roster payers to Major League spring training.

Francisco, 31, owns a career Major League average of .257 (395-1535) with 104 doubles, 49 home runs and 189 RBI over 542 games with Cleveland, Philadelphia, Toronto, Houston and Tampa Bay. He made his Major League debut with the Indians in 2007, and in 235 games with the Indians from 2007-2009 he hit .261 (213-817) with 58 2B, 28 HR, 99RBI, and .768OPS. He was traded to the Phillies in July of 2009 as part of the Cliff Lee deal and spent two and half seasons with them, and last season split time between the Blue Jays, Astros and Rays where he hit .240 (46-192) with 14 2B, 4 HR, 15 RBI and .670 OPS in 82 games.

Raburn, 31, is a right-handed hitter that has spent his entire professional career with the Detroit Tigers. In 566 games with the Tigers he has accumulated a .256 batting average with 95 doubles, 54 HR, 216 RBI, and .740 OPS.  He has hit at least 14 home runs in less than 400 at bats over each season from 2009-2011 and owns a career .796 OPS against left-handed pitching.  He missed some time last season because of a right thumb injury and right quad strain which landed him on the disabled list and may have affected his performance.  He has some versatility as he has appeared in 396 games in the outfield and 143 games at second base.

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

January 22, 2013 - 3:00 PM EST
if either of these STIFFS make the team then the indians arent gonna be very good. I do not think that raburn or fransisco are gonna get one iota better in 2013 than they have been the last few years why waste the time what is this affirmative action, and i dont mean that in reference to any ethnicity it is affirmative action to experienced stiffs. Dombroski didnt build 4 world series teams by missing out on quality talent, and ben fransisco was with several teams since he left here all of them found him wanting. You dont strike lightning in a bottle with the WBC we have a chance to let some of the kids who are brilliant propects get a taste of big league camp instead we are bringing in STIFF's who are not even wanna-bes, they are never were's to take up valuable time away from guys who have a chance in the scheme of things. does fedroff hav eto hit 360 in columbus to get a cup of coffee, and how many guys do you need to play in both infield and outfield. There comes a time when you have too many moving parts and you start muddying up the water and then all of sudden you got to make a decision and they have done that before with breslin the lefty and others in the pitching dept cause they had excess in camp and had to let some go and low and behold they picked the wrong guys. Based on what i have seen anto and shap dont go to the race track cause you dont seem to know how to read a track record. There is ONE JOSE BAUTISTA or MICHAEL MORSE usually a stiff in one organization is a stiff in another bautista morse and encanacion are the exceptions to the rule. Finding lightning in a bottle is rare.
Rich Tribester
January 22, 2013 - 11:19 AM EST
I like these deals. It gives the Indians the outfield depth that they need. Both players are very versatile also.
January 22, 2013 - 10:42 AM EST
I agree with you Tony. If Raburn is healthy and returns to form, he could be a great fit on this team. An excellent bat against LHP, he is capable of platooning and subbing at a number of positions. Not a great player offensively or defensively but utilitarian. Would allow the Tribe to use McGuiness or a LH DH as the 25th spot depending on how things check out from here. This could be much better than our usual depth fills.

Francisco will probably be the primary callup if an OF goes down from injury or performance. He is unlikely to embarrass the team the way our LFs did last year.

The off season acquisitions all seem to have been purposeful. They might not work out but I cannot fault the effort.
eric wedge dream team
January 22, 2013 - 10:30 AM EST
really never could understand the love affair with ben francisco, indians drafted him out of high school and he didnt sign. then a year later they drafted him out of ucla... dude is a serious under performer who has bounced around in the past 3 years. i understand this is just minor league depth but geez, arent their better options out there. i seriously thought he was one of wedge's grinders (chris gimenez, ben francisco, david delucci) but apparently not.
January 22, 2013 - 12:14 AM EST
I think Raburn has a good shot to make the team. With Brantley and Stubbs able to handle CF and multiple outfield positions, the need for a true 4th outfielder is negated, so it is possible the Indians instead choose to have a versatile bat off the bench that can play OF and INF instead of a traditional 4th outfielder.
January 21, 2013 - 5:11 PM EST
Ben Francisco ... brings back memories of 2009, when I thought the Indians' outfield would be set for the next few years with Sizemore, Choo and Laporta, and Francisco as the 4th outfielder. That did not work out at all.
January 21, 2013 - 4:51 PM EST
Insurance more than anything. This is more of a depth move than a low risk/high reward type of deal like with Kazmir or Matsuzaka (if that one happens for the Tribe).

Raburn makes some sense due to the versatility. Francisco due to experience. But the OF looks set, barring injury. Carrera is a proven commodity and a decent 4th outfielder. Fedroff appears to be about the same, but with a little more pop. There's also Phelps trying to add some versatility as well, so I doubt Francisco gets the call unless he has an incredible spring or we have a lot of injuries. I think he'd be pretty interchangeable as a 4th OF. So he adds some depth.

Raburn adds more Ks, but also a little more pop over the other guys as well.

So nothing to get excited about but also nothing to complain about.

I'd personally love to see them decide to spend some money on Lohse, though not the kind of money that some have talked about ($15M per season). I'll take the chance on Matsuzaka at a much lower cost.

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