Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.
Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.
In an interview with FOX19’s Joe Danneman, Reds first baseman Joey Votto discussed how he would have been viewed in the past as opposed to the current era. Votto, of course, has been criticized by fans and media types alike in Cincinnati because he draws so many walks. Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman has been one frequent critic of Votto’s for that reason, and many fans have followed in suit.
Votto said to Danneman, “I probably would’ve been far more embraced 50 or 75 years ago to be honest with you because I had a steady batting average. That would’ve been a major marker and people would’ve pointed to that and said, ‘Look how well he’s playing.'”
Votto certainly has been elite in the batting average department. He’s a career .313 hitter and finished with an average above .300 in seven of eight seasons in which he’s logged at least 100 games, and hit .297 in the other season. It’s the on-base percentage, though, that sends Votto from great to elite. His .425 career OBP is tops among active players and he’s led the league in OBP five times. Excepting intentional walks, Votto is Barry Bonds-esque in this department.
However, Votto has only 730 RBI in his career and has topped the 100 RBI threshold only twice in his career, which has angered his critics. But, as many (including myself) have pointed out over the years, that’s had more to do with the likes of Billy Hamilton and Brandon Phillips hitting ahead of him than anything else.
A tough, tough break for Sean Rodriguez and for the team which just signed him a couple of months ago.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder on Tuesday. The surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, will put him on the shelf for as long as eight months. Even if he beats that prognosis by a couple of months the season will be close to over before he could play. Given that the Braves are not likely to be playing meaningful baseball in September there will not be a reason to rush him.
The Braves signed Rodriguez to a two-year, $11.5 million contract back in November as he was coming off of a career year with the Pirates during which he hit .270/.349/.510 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI over 342 plate appearances. Then tragedy struck.
Rodriguez was in an SUV with his wife and two of their four children when they were t-boned by a stolen police cruiser which had run a red light. The cruiser burst into flames and the man who was stole it suffered fatal injuries. Rodriguez’s wife broke he leg and the two children each suffered unspecified injuries. Rodriguez was thought to be unharmed until last week when the rotator cuff tear was discovered.
The injury prompted the Braves to trade for Brandon Phillips last weekend and he will be the Braves everyday second baseman to start the season. Rodriguez will, if everything goes well, be ready for spring training in 2018.