Reds expect to sign Ryan Raburn to compete for backup role
GOODYEAR, Ariz. (AP) The Cincinnati Reds expect outfielder Ryan Raburn to pass a physical and sign a minor league deal Sunday, giving them another player to compete for a role off the bench.
The 35-year-old Raburn has played for the Tigers, Indians and Rockies. Last season with Colorado, he batted .220 with nine homers and 30 RBIs in 113 games. He started 44 games in left field, one in right, one at first base and six as the designated hitter.
Improving the bench has been one of Cincinnati's offseason priorities. Manager Bryan Price likes the flexibility that Raburn could provide as a right-handed batter.
''Ryan is a guy who has been successful against left-handed pitching,'' Price said.
Last season, Raburn was 22 of 96 against lefties with five doubles, two triples and five homers. He made $1.6 million last season, the final year on his contract.
Among those in the mix for a spot on the bench are Arismendy Alcantara, Desmond Jennings, Hernan Iribarren and Jesse Winker, who is expected to start the season in Triple-A. Jennings signed a minor league deal this month.
Winker was the 49th overall pick in the 2012 draft. The 23-year-old outfielder could earn his first promotion to the big leagues with an impressive spring training, but the Reds initially are more inclined to give him more time at Triple-A. He's had several injuries since he signed. Winker, who bats left-handed, hit .303 with three homers at Louisville last year.
''If a young player isn't playing full-time or in a platoon position, it is generally more helpful for him to play every day (in the minors),'' Price said. ''I would like Jesse to press us to consider him.''