Indians Agree to Sign Outfielder Ryan Spilborghs

Just a day after signing the Cleveland Indians have agreed to terms with free agent Ryan Spilborghs, according to CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. The deal is a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training, according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian.

Spilborghs, 32, was non-tendered by the Colorado Rockies this winter after a disappointing 2011 campaign in which he hit .210/.283/.305 with 3 home runs, 22 RBI, and -1.1 fWAR in 98 games.

Presumably, the right-handed outfielder was signed with a partial platoon in mind, though it’s unclear exactly which of the Tribe’s projected outfielders—Michael Brantley, Grady Sizemore, and Shin-Soo Choo, all of whom are left-handed—he would split time with.

Spilborghs’ career numbers—he has a .272/.345/.423 triple-slash and has averaged 11 home runs, 57 RBI, and 0.7 fWAR per 162 games—suggest that he’ll bounce back in 2011, but even so those numbers aren’t promising.

Spilborghs hit a mediocre .207/.264/.341 against southpaw pitchers in 2011, but owns a more respectable .273/.357/.443 triple-slash against them over the course of his career.

He has experience playing all three outfield positions, and neither UZR nor Total Zone like his defense at any of them.

As we’ve said before, there’s no harm in signing a player to a minor-league deal, but it’d be shocking if Spilborghs leapfrogs Shelley Duncan and Aaron Cunningham, the two right-handed backup outfielders already on the roster. And if Spilborghs is considered enough of a “positional fit” to get a chance even though he’s (at best) seventh or eighth on the depth chart, it doesn’t make any sense why the Indians refuse to consider Manny Ramirez.

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