Not all the articles in my free-agent series are going to be about big-name guys.
The Cubs are going to have to fill some spots on their roster with role players, too, and I think Ryan Raburn would be perfect for the 2016 Cubs. Yes, I know -- I've beaten this drum before -- and if the Cubs had in fact signed Raburn after 2012, they'd have gotten a very good player in 2013 (.272/.357/.543, 16 home runs in 243 at-bats). He had a bad year in 2014, then another very good season in 2015 (.301/.393/.543 with eight home runs in 173 at-bats).
Raburn had a $3 million option for 2016 that was declined by the Indians on Wednesday. The Cubs could easily sign him to a deal for that kind of money, maybe even a bit more, with a second-year option. He'll be 35 shortly after Opening Day 2016 -- he's almost exactly the same age as Chris Denorfia.
And that's who I'm suggesting Raburn could replace. He didn't play much infield the last three years with the Indians, but did have significant time at second base and third base for several years with the Tigers, and we all know how Joe Maddon loves to mix-and-match. He absolutely mashes lefthanded pitching: .325/.415/.589 in 151 at-bats last year, with all eight of his home runs vs. LHP.
He'd be a perfect platoon guy to give some of the young players a break, and could even work out at first base from time to time to give Anthony Rizzo an occasional day off.
And he can be another emergency pitcher. You might recall his appearance against the Cubs last June 17 in Cleveland, where he got a couple of outs and walked Chris Coghlan and gave up a single to Kyle Schwarber, before an error led to seven unearned runs in the inning, capped by a grand slam off David Murphy by Kris Bryant. Why not have Raburn join David Ross in the emergency-pitcher brigade?
Not all free-agent signings have to make a big splash or involve a lot of dollars. Here's one that I think could help the Cubs' bench while not costing a fortune.