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Rangers sign Jeff Baker to minor league contract

Jan 27, 2013, 10:23 AM EDT

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Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers have signed utility infielder Jeff Baker to a minor league contract. The deal carries an invitation to spring training, where Baker will attempt to win a spot on the Texas bench.

Baker, 31, batted .239/.279/.378 with four homers and 25 RBI in 201 plate appearances last season between the Cubs, Tigers and Braves. He is a .266/.316/.428 career hitter in the major leagues.

Baker has played every infield position but shortstop over his eight-year MLB career and is also capable of serving as a fill-in at the corner outfield spots. He’ll be competing this spring with the likes of Leury Garcia, Yangervis Solarte and Brandon Snyder.

  1. unclemosesgreen - Jan 27, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Baker could form a good 1B platoon with Moreland, who really struggles against LHP’s. He’s also good insurance for an injury-prone Ian Kinsler, and can man the OF corners if need be. If he catches on, he could be an interesting AL-only sleeper, as he has a lot of pop for a utility guy.

  2. mazblast - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:00 PM

    Baker has always been one of those guys who is almost a positive contributor but not quite. Defensively, he’s adequate at a few positions but not that good. Offensively, he has a few moments but also has long stretches where he doesn’t do much of anything. Genuine meh.

  3. innout10 - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:03 PM

    This guy was about as bad as it gets when he was on the braves and his overall year last season shows hes not just declining but not a ML caliber player anymore. He will be released before ST ends

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 27, 2013 at 12:08 PM

      Way to draw a conclusion off of 19 AB’s. His yearlong statline was right in line with his career line.

      People – it’s a minor-league contract for a 24th or 25th man. The point is not to get you all excited – it’s to add another small piece to a big puzzle.

  4. papacrick - Jan 27, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    He couldn’t outperform Raburn on a loaded team. That tells ya all you need to know

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:34 AM

      35 AB’s is more than 19. I have to give you that. Still a ridiculous sample size, but don’t let the facts obstruct your view.

      In 2012, Jeff Baker had an OPS around .700 in around 190 AB’s. Ryan Raburn had a .480 OPS in 205 AB’s.

      Dear HardBalls: why must I keep defending Jeff Baker? He’s just a utlility guy, wasn’t trying to sell him as the second coming. Just a nice complementary piece, that’s all.

  5. halohonk - Jan 27, 2013 at 6:41 PM

    Man what is going on in Texas. Seems like the Rangers are in a free fall this off season. Between losing some key guys and pitchers trying to battle back from surgeries and scraping the bottom of the barrel for pieces to the puzzle, if i was a fan id be wondering what the heck is going on. Maybe they got some guys on the farm their gonna bring up. Is it a rebuilding year for ya all? Cant believe Nolan & Daniels are in this position with a month away from spring training. Us halo honks sure love our chances this year.

    • jwbiii - Jan 28, 2013 at 1:05 AM

      Offensively, the thinking is that A.J. Pierzynski will adequately replace Mike Napoli, that Lance Berkman will be an upgrade over Michael Young, and that will be enough to offset the downgrade of a Craig Gentry/Leonys Martin jobshare replacing Josh Hamilton. Any or none of these things could happen. Pierzynski could get old, Berkman could get old or hurt, and Leonys Martin could be a AAAA hitter. Personally, I think betting on a 36 year old player coming off a career year to sustain his production is a good way to lose money. Berkman had his third and fourth operations on his right knee last year so I’m not sure he’s such a good bet either. I’ve had three on my right knee and it still bothers me 35 freaking years later, but they can do much more arthroscopically now and that’s a much easier recovery.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jan 28, 2013 at 3:46 AM

      You’ll never get your wings if you keep trolling Rangers fans.

      Mike Olt had a .979 OPS in AA last year, and AJ Pierzynski is a huge upgrade over Napoli. AJ can catch, for one thing. For another, he can throw. And oh yeah, last year he also out-hit Napoli, by a lot.

  6. darthicarus - Jan 28, 2013 at 7:16 AM

    The best part of this article is that Drew was able to find a picture of Baker playing in a Tigers uniform. Well done sir!

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