The Giants have been in contact with free agent outfielder Ryan Raburn recently, according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. However, there are some roadblocks to a potential match — namely that Raburn has been insistent on a Major League contract in free agency this offseason, and the Giants would prefer to add him on a minor league deal. San Francisco’s 40-man roster is full at present, and the team doesn’t wish to designate someone for assignment in order to create a spot for Raburn, whom it would view as the 25th man on its 25-man roster.
After a down year in 2014, Raburn enjoyed an excellent rebound campaign in 2015. The 34-year-old (35 in April) was deployed almost exclusively as a platoon option by the Indians last year, recording just 25 plate appearances against right-handed pitching against 176 PAs versus lefties. Raburn tattooed left-handers at a .325/.415/.589 clip, ripping eight homers and 16 doubles in that fairly small sample of plate appearances. Raburn has carved out a niche for himself as a weapon against left-handed pitching late in his career, and he’d presumably be used as a bench piece for the Giants. He offered a bit of defensive versatility earlier in his career when he could be relied upon as an option at second or third base, but he hasn’t played third base since 2011 or second base since 2013, when he totaled just 17 innings there.
The Giants don’t necessarily need to add another outfield piece, with Angel Pagan, Denard Span, Hunter Pence and Gregor Blanco all present on the 40-man roster in addition to prospects Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker. Pagan, though, has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, and the switch-hitter has better career numbers against right-handers than left-handers. The left-handed-hitting Blanco, too, has been stronger against righties.
Baggarly doesn’t seem to imply that the Giants could change their stance on offering a Major League deal, noting that the likeliest means of Raburn ending up with San Francisco would be if he cannot land a big league deal elsewhere. Of course, an injury early in camp, whether on the Giants roster or another club’s roster, could create an opening for Raburn.