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Reds can't fit Raburn onto short bench

March 27, 2017

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Because they know their rotation will contain young pitchers without big league track records, the Reds are likely going to have an eight-man bullpen. That means the bench would be limited to four players.That came into play when the Reds told veteran utility player Ryan Raburn on

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Because they know their rotation will contain young pitchers without big league track records, the Reds are likely going to have an eight-man bullpen. That means the bench would be limited to four players.
That came into play when the Reds told veteran utility player Ryan Raburn on Sunday night that he was being released. Raburn was signed to a Minor League contract on Feb. 17, and despite being a non-roster player, he had seemed likely to make the club out of camp.
"The reality of not having [Homer] Bailey and [Anthony] DeSclafani to start the season, we'll be leaning on a lot more youth in our rotation," Reds manager Bryan Price said on Monday morning. "The feeling is, organizationally, we're going to spend quite a bit of the season with a four-man bench. We need to have some fluidity to the bench personnel, multipositional and at least a guy or two who has options that give us the ability to move some pieces. [Raburn] was the odd man out, unfortunately, because I feel like he would have brought a lot to our ballclub."
Raburn, 35, was batting .219 this spring, and he would have been owed a $100,000 bonus if he was not added to the big league roster by Tuesday.
Raburn was viewed as someone who would have been a veteran presence on a young team. He was also expected to be a pinch-hitter who could face tougher relievers late in games. Had he made the team, his $900,000 salary would not have burdened the budget.
All of that ended up taking a back seat to other the other issues. In terms of versatility, Raburn did not play well at first base and was limited to the corner-outfield spots. Price needs to have the opportunity to maneuver players to different positions, and one of the four bench spots is already locked up for a backup catcher.
Arismendy Alcantara, Desmond Jennings, Tony Renda, Patrick Kivlehan, Hernan Iribarren and Sebastian Elizalde are the remaining candidates for the bench. Alcantara appears to be a lock to make the club, because he can play center field, second base, shortstop and third base. Jennings can play all three outfield spots, and Kivlehan can play the infield and outfield corners. Iribarren can play the outfield and every infield spot but shortstop, but he is out of options. Renda can also play the outfield corners and three infield positions.
Kivlehan and Renda have options and could be sent down later in the season.
"As is the case, there's a strong commitment here to utilize the younger players and the more multipositional players that can fill different roles off the bench, and pinch-run and pinch-hit and play multiple positions adroitly," Price said. "It was a difficult decision to make. But it was one that we did make. So I spoke with [Raburn] last night. I hope he finds a home. I think he's still a good player. He could have helped us in a lot of ways."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.