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Ryan Raburn Signs Minor League Contract with Reds, Includes MLB Camp Invitation

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2017

Colorado Rockies' Ryan Raburn follows the flight of his RBI-double to drive in the tying run off Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman in the 11th inning of a baseball game Friday, Aug. 19, 2016 in Denver. The Rockies won 7-6 when Raburn scored on an error by Cubs second baseman Javier Baez. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The Cincinnati Reds and veteran outfielder Ryan Raburn agreed to a minor league deal Friday.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Raburn's contract with the Reds, which also includes an invitation to camp with the MLB club. C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer confirmed the deal. 

Raburn, 35, spent the 2016 season with the Colorado Rockies. He hit .220/.309/.404 with nine home runs and 30 runs batted in, appearing in 113 games. He started a little under half of those contests, with most of his appearances coming via pinch-hitting assignments.

In the second half of the season, the Rockies utilized Raburn at first base occasionally.

"It's been a tough year, even with all of the grinding and work I've put in," Raburn told reporters.

Raburn spent the previous three seasons with the Cleveland Indians after playing for the Detroit Tigers in his first seven. He has mostly played outfield as his career has gone on, but he played second base extensively early on.

The Reds will more than likely keep Raburn in the outfield and bank on a solid 2017 at the plate. His year-to-year performance has become so inconsistent that Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs labeled him the most volatile hitter in baseball history. 

"Ryan Raburn hasn't made a lot of sense in ages," Sullivan wrote. "That doesn’t make him any more or less valuable. It just gives him one of the weirder careers the game has ever seen.

"I'm sure he's known for a good while he wasn't on track to be a Hall of Famer. I'm sure he's come to terms with that. This isn't the worst kind of fallback, if all you want is to make yourself memorable."

Raburn's minus-0.2 WAR last season was the third time in five seasons he's been negative, according to FanGraphs. In the other two, he's put up a solid combined WAR of 3.8—representing more than half of his career total.

The Reds provide Raburn with an opportunity to play everyday, since they are still in the throes of a rebuild after going 68-94 in 2016. Scott Schebler is penciled in as Cincinnati's starting right fielder after hitting .265/.330/.432 last season, but Raburn gives the team insurance off the bench.

Given his recent history of odd-year success, perhaps Raburn has one last good season in him. If not, he's a low-cost platoon signing that doesn't hurt the Reds one bit.    

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