Raburn joins Rockies, boosts OF competition

Raburn joins Rockies, boosts OF competition

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Often, the adage that Spring Training is too long helped right-handed hitting outfielder Ryan Raburn keep looking at the bright side as camps rolled on while he was in Tampa without a contract.

Raburn's longer-than-expected offseason ended Saturday, when he joined the Rockies a day after signing a Minor League contract that, if he is on the Major League roster as expected when the regular season begins, will pay him $1.5 million.

"I've been still hitting, still trying to get my work in, but there's only so much you can do at the house," Raburn said. "If I could take any positives, I had a little longer offseason, but I definitely would rather have been in camp."

The Indians declined his $3 million option after last season, which threw Raburn, 34, into a clogged and slow-moving outfield market. But now he joins a team with an all left-handed hitting projected starting outfield, and brings OPSs of better than 1.000 in two of his last three seasons.

Raburn said his agents have been talking to the Rockies since early in the offseason. Raburn, an infielder earlier in his career who still practices at second, third and first base, can play either outfield corner. On days center fielder Charlie Blackmon rests, the Rockies have the option of sliding Gerardo Parra from left or going with right-handed hitting Brandon Barnes in center.

"The natural fit is the difficulties we've had with left-handers and how well [Raburn] has hit left-handers," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.

Raburn's presence could end up squeezing switch-hitting infielder-outfielder Rafael Ynoa or Barnes. Either way, he creates better matchup possibilities and increases competition.

"There is a lot of intrigue with this team, with a lot of youth and a lot of good talent," Raburn said. "I'm anxious to see where this team can go."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.