The Indians will welcome back a friendly face as Russell Branyan is back with the team. Cleveland signed the 1B / DH to a 1-year deal for almost $2M guaranteed, with incentives included in the contract. Branyan was seeking a longer term deal after hitting for a career high in home runs with 31 and 76 RBI, while playing in Seattle last season, but settled for the 1-year deal with spring training right around the corner. Originally drafted by the Indians in the 7th round in 1994, Branyan made it to the big leagues in 1998 for 1 game and went on to play until the 2002 season for the club, when he was traded for Ben Broussard of the Reds. Branyan always had the swing to hit the long-ball, it was his defense, or lack there of, that would keep him from landing a starting position.
In 2001, Branyan had 20 home runs and 54 RBI for the Tribe, but in his 72 games at third base, he had 11 errors, most of them throwing errors that saw balls sail into the stands. The potential was always there, and after playing for the Reds, Brewers, Rays, Padres, Phillies and Cardinals, the Indians have brought him back.
In his 882 career games, Branyan has hit 164 home runs with 396 RBI. The average over that time has been .234 and he has 946 strikeouts in 2431 at-bats, almost a unheard amount of strikeouts over that number of at-bats. Expect 20 home runs and a lot of strikeouts again in 2010.