By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
CLEVELAND: It’s not as if Ryan Raburn is going to miss out on Miguel Cabrera-type money if he passes up free agency in the fall.
Still, Raburn might come away with a more lucrative contract if he told the Indians, “Thanks but no thanks,” when they approached him about signing a new deal.
Instead, Raburn was happy to talk about a two-year, $4.85 million contract that includes a $3 million option for 2016.
“For me, this is a good opportunity,” Raburn said at a news conference Wednesday to announce the agreement. “This is a great feeling. This organization has been unbelievable to me. And with Tito [Terry Francona] leading us, it’s been a pleasure.”
General Manager Chris Antonetti knows the feeling is mutual.
“Ryan’s versatility has been a huge asset to us,” he said. “And his production speaks for itself.”
Raburn is batting .277 with 14 doubles, 13 home runs and 38 RBI in 184 at-bats. In other words, he comes off the bench, yet he has made such an impact that earlier in the season he was named American League Player of the Week.
Asked why he turned his back on free agency, the 32-year-old Raburn said, “I could have waited but there are no guarantees. I’m not getting any younger. Injuries are part of the game. I enjoy coming to the ballpark and being with these players, and the organization has been great.”
Raburn can earn $8.7 million over the course of the contract, if the Tribe exercises the option. That will more than double his career earnings through this year ($5.6 million), but it’s miles and miles short of what Cabrera will make in 2013, $21 million.
Whether or not the Indians overtake the Central Division-leading Tigers, Raburn is optimistic about the future.
“We’re close,” he said. “We’re not getting blown out. We’re competitive. We just need a couple more pieces to complement the players we have.”
Raburn is coming off the worst season of his career. He began the 2012 season as the Tigers’ starting second baseman but ended the year batting .171 with one homer and 12 RBI in 205 at-bats.
“I don’t think anything went right for me last year,” he said. “I’m so glad Cleveland gave me the opportunity to play.”
The season was so painful that Raburn considered retirement.
“Of course that came into my mind,” he said. “Last year took a toll.”
Antonetti began talking to Raburn about a new deal shortly before the All-Star Game.
“The day we finalized the deal [last Thursday],” the GM said, “Ryan hit two home runs.”
Raburn apparently didn’t want to wait long to show Antonetti he made the right decision.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.