Ryan Raburn: Worth A Cubs Spring-Training Invite?

Jared Wickerham

Raburn was once a pretty good utility player for the Tigers before an awful 2012. Could he regain that level and be a decent performer if the Cubs signed him?

This wouldn't normally rate a front-page post.

But it's the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and you probably ate too much, and there's leftovers staring you in the face for lunch or dinner today. (Incidentally, one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving leftovers is making a turkey sandwich the day after.)

So let's talk about a baseball leftover, and how he might fit into the Cubs' plans for 2013. Yeah, I know. Not much of a topic, as I said. But hear me out.

Earlier this week, the Detroit Tigers released Ryan Raburn. Raburn had a really bad year in 2012; in 222 plate appearances he hit .171/.226/.254 with one home run and an OPS+ of 30. Yes, thirty.

But from 2009-11 Raburn was one of the best utility players in baseball; over that span he hit .274/.329/.473 over 1,119 plate appearances. His seasonal averages over that span were 116 games, 15 home runs, 52 RBI and 50 runs scored. The best thing about Raburn is that he can play almost every position; he's played everywhere but shortstop and catcher in his MLB career.

This is the sort of guy that the Cubs could really use, if he can get back to his performance level of just two years ago. Raburn was sent to Triple-A Toledo during the 2012 season and in an admittedly small-sample-size 66 PA, he hit .250/.318/.483 with four home runs, which is at least close to that 2009-11 level (in fact, the .801 OPS is almost exactly what he had from 2009-11). Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski agrees:

Dombrowski pointed out Raburn would be a good player in the National League because he can play a lot of positions and add power off the bench.

Dombrowski said that some NL teams inquired about Raburn in the past, “but we were not looking to move him."

I think Raburn is worth a minor-league deal with a spring-training invite.

As I said, this probably isn't worth a full front-page post, but it's a quiet holiday weekend and I wanted to give you at least something to talk about. Enjoy your holiday leftovers.

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