Raburn, Antonetti, Francona discuss Tribe utility man’s contract extension

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The Indians announced on Wednesday that IF/OF Ryan Raburn had signed a two-year extension with the team, that also includes a team option for the 2016 season. The extension comes in the midst of a tremendous comeback season for Raburn, who joined the Indians on a minor league contract this winter, and won a spot on the roster in Spring Training.

Raburn spoke to media on Wednesday about his time with the Indians, and General Manager Chris Antonetti and Indians skipper Terry Francona weighed in on Raburn’s contributions this season as well.

Ryan Raburn

On his comeback with the Indians this season, and the team’s performance: I think it’s tough when you bounce around from club to club. I think the team they built here — I think there’s going to be some great things that come out of this team. We’ve been playing great and to have the opportunity to be able to stick around for a few more years, I can’t be more grateful than what I am.

On the beginning of the extension process with the Indians: [They approached me] a little bit before the All-Star break. They came up to me and asked me about it. And I thought it was a little early to bring it up, but later in the year I was probably going to mention it to them about coming back. For them to bring it up first, it really meant a lot to me that they thought that much of me.

On whether he had doubts in the offseason about his future in baseball: Definitely, as bad as it was last year — I don’t think anything went right for me last year, and of course when I went home it was in the back of my mind if I still wanted to do it. But I’m just glad that Cleveland gave me the opportunity to come back and show that I could still play, and I’ve been enjoying every minute of it so far.

On the difference of having a multi-year contract vs. a one-year deal: The uncertainty of where you’re going to be the next year. Other than that, it’s not like I don’t play the game as hard just because I’ve got two more years; no, I still play the game just as hard.

On is high school coach, Butch Valdez, who helped Raburn with winter workouts: I talk to him all the time. He actually texted me earlier and told me he was probably the reason I got this extension. And he’s probably right — who knows — I was working a lot with him. I think it was great to be able to go back and spend time at my old high school, and who knows — maybe it was the reason.

Indians GM Chris Antonetti

On when the Indians began talks with Raburn: Just before the All-Star break we talked about it, and explored with Ryan his interest in staying here, and he was very interested. Actually, coincidentally, the day we finalized terms was the day he hit two home runs (vs. the White Sox on Aug. 1, to help the Indians complete a four-game sweep).

On the Indians initial interest in Raburn, and his performance thus far for the Tribe: We always appreciated Ryan [in Detroit], playing across the field from him. His versatility, some of the quality at-bats he put up, we thought he would be a good fit with some of the guys here. He had a down year last year, and that’s why he was available, and so we thought that was an opportunity for us to bring him in and give him a chance to re-establish himself here. He’s done an exceptional job of that. He’s fit in seamlessly on this team in the clubhouse, and in the role he’s played, his versatility has been a huge asset for us, and obviously his production speaks for itself.

On the contributions of Raburn and other bench players: [The bench] has been a huge part [of our success]. Being able to turn to guys like Raburn, Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes and Jason Giambi — those guys have all been able to fill big roles on our team.

Indians Manager Terry Francona

On his thoughts of Raburn’s extension: I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him, I’m glad for him and for our team. I think it was wise [to sign Raburn] — I think Chris did a good job getting it done. We did some pretty significant moves this winter, but we’re not always going to be the highest bidder, so we’ve got to figure out ways to win, and having guys like Raburn and Aviles on our bench helps us win. And it’s proven — we’ve seen time and time again it helps us win games, and moving forward I don’t see that being any different.

On the Indians acquiring Raburn after his substandard 2012 season: You’ve got to remember — 14, 15 months ago, the Tigers thought enough of this guy to make him their everyday second baseman. There was a lot in there, and for whatever reason he stumbled a little bit and had a tough time, and that’s why we were able to get him. That happens in the game sometimes…having a guy with that ability, maybe that one really rough year, we caught a break.

–TribeVibe contributor Max Lom

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