September 23, 2014

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Indians: Raburn signs two-year extension

CLEVELAND — It’s been a bounce back season for utility player Ryan Raburn and Wednesday he got his reward.

Considering leaving the game after a trying year in Detroit last season, Raburn signed a two-year contract extension with the Indians worth $4.85 million. There is an option in 2016 worth $3 million, with Cleveland owning a $100,000 buyout.

The Indians signed Raburn, 32, to a minor league contract this offseason after he was released by Detroit, where he opened 2012 as the Tigers’ starting second baseman.

Raburn made Cleveland’s big league club out of spring training and has paid large dividends since, entering Wednesday with a .277 batting average, 13 home runs and 38 RBIs in 66 games. Only three qualifying hitters — Miguel Cabrera (Detroit), Chris Davis (Baltimore) and Edwin Encarnacion (Toronto) — owned a better at-bat per RBI ratio than Raburn’s 4.84 through Tuesday.

“We always appreciated Ryan across the field from us, his versatility and the quality of at-bats he put up,” Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We thought he would be a good fit with the mix of guys we had here. He had a down year last year and that’s why he was available. He’s done an exceptional job. His versatility has been a huge asset for us and obviously his production speaks for itself.”

Antonetti said the Indians and Raburn finalized the extension last Thursday on the same day the outfielder hit two homers in a 6-1 win over the White Sox. The announcement was pending a physical.

The bench has been a strength for Cleveland this year and now the Indians have three members locked up for the future in Raburn, Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes. It’s comforting to manager Terry Francona.

“We did some pretty significant moves this winter, but we’re not always going to be the highest bidder on guys so we’ve got to figure out a way to win,” Francona said. “Having guys like Raburn and Aviles on our bench helps us win. They make a 25-man roster seem a little bit bigger.”

It has been a complete reversal of fortune for Raburn, who said he considered retiring after his season on the brink in Detroit last year.

“Of course it came into my mind, whether or not I had the desire and wanted to continue doing it,” Raburn said. “Last year definitely took a toll on me. I was glad to get it put behind me and I was thankful for the organization to give me an opportunity to prove that I could still do something.

“For me it’s a great opportunity and a great feeling. The organization has been unbelievable to me. I’m enjoying every day coming to the ballpark. It’s been a pleasure. I think there’s some great things to come.”

Raburn chose to by pass free agency this winter in order to rejoin the Indians.

“There’s no guarantees,” he said. “I’m not getting any younger. There’s no telling what could happen to me tomorrow. I enjoy being here every day.”

 

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @CAwesomeheimer.