Jeff Baker Rumors
1:35pm: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Baker will earn $1.6MM in 2014 and $2.1MM in 2015.
1:16pm: The Marlins and Jeff Baker have agreed to a two-year deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The New York Post's Joel Sherman tweets that Baker is guaranteed $3.7MM and has an additional $500K of incentives built into each year of the deal. Baker's agent, Scott Boras, said last night that he was nearing agreements for four of his clients, including Baker.
The 32-year-old Baker slashed .279/.360/.545 in 2013 thanks in large part to his Herculean numbers against left-handed pitching. Baker has never been one to handle same-handed pitching well, and he showed that last season with a .204/.250/.286 line against righties in just 52 plate appearances. However, in his 123 PAs against southpaws, Baker mashed at a .314/.407/.667 clip. In his career, he's a .298/.353/.522 hitter against lefties.
Baker's splits make him a natural platoon partner at first base for Garrett Jones, who the Marlins also signed to a two-year deal earlier this offseason. Baker also comes with experience at second base, third base and both outfield corners, making him a valuable bench piece whose versatility should serve sophomore manager Mike Remond well.
Baker also drew interest from the Giants, Nationals and Rangers at varying points this offseason. The Marlins' willingness to guarantee a second year seems likely to have pushed them to the front of the pack, though that's just my speculation.
A series of significant, albeit not top-shelf, free agents could soon be coming off the board, according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Agent Scott Boras tells Morosi that he is "very close" to inking contracts for four of his clients: Oliver Perez, Jeff Baker, Francisco Rodriguez, and Suk-min Yoon.
Each of these names could represent an interesting opportunity to obtain a significant impact for a relatively limited investment. Rumors have been picking up steam of late on both Baker and Yoon. Baker, a 32-year-old lefty masher, has been said to be nearing a deal and could prove an important bench piece. The South Korean Yoon, meanwhile, has reportedly drawn a good bit of interest; Boras says that six or seven clubs are still involved. While he may not offer massive upside in the sense of becoming a dominating MLB pitcher, Yoon could end up delivering good value if he can stick at the back of a rotation, especially given his young age (27).
Then, there are the two enigmatic relivers: Perez and Rodriguez. Their long MLB tenures (each tasted the bigs at age 20) leave one surprised to learn of their relative youth (both are just 32). Despite flashes of brilliance as a starter, Perez utimately had to reinvent himself as a reliever. And after a stretch as one of the most dominating late-inning men in the game, Rodriguez was forced to settle for a minor league deal last season. Yet the numbers show that both offer very real upside. In the last two seasons, the southpaw Perez has thrown 82 2/3 innings of 3.16 ERA ball (with 10.7 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9). And Rodriguez registered a 2.70 ERA last year in 46 2/3 innings while striking out 10.4 per nine and walking a career-low 2.7 per nine.
1:07pm: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweets that Baker is close to signing with a team, and the Nationals are still in the mix.
11:39am: The Marlins and Nationals are among the teams showing interest in Jeff Baker, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter), who also notes that the Orioles are a possibly interested team.
Despite huge numbers against left-handed pitching -- Baker slashed .314/.407/.667 with 10 homers in 123 plate appearances against southpaws last season -- it's been a relatively quiet offseason for the 32-year-old. The Rangers are known to have interest in re-signing Baker, and the Giants had talks with him a couple months back, though that was shortly before they elected to sign Mike Morse. The Morse signing would seem to indicate that Baker is no longer a consideration for San Francisco.
Baker has just a .647 OPS against right-handed pitching in his career, but he has an .875 OPS against lefties to go along with experience at second base, third base, first base and both outfield corners.
The 32-year-old Baker thrived in his first season with the Rangers in 2013, batting .279/.360/.545 primarily in a platoon role. A thumb injury in June sidelined Baker for more than a month, and his OPS upon returning was nearly 400 points lower than it was prior to the injury, suggesting that he may never have fully recovered.
Baker doesn't hit right-handed pitching much, but the righty swinger absolutely mashes against left-handed pitching. He hit southpaws at a huge .314/.407/.667 clip with 10 of his 11 homers in 2013, and his career line against lefties is a strong .298/.353/.522. He has big league experience at second base, third base, first base and the outfield corners, and while he's not considered an elite defender at any of the positions, his versatility and big numbers against lefties make him a valuable bench piece. Baker has also been connected to the Yankees and the Giants so far this offseason.
Earlier today, the Yankees reached agreements with both Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton.They're likely to continue adding pieces, however. A source confirmed to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) that the Yanks have spoken to Mark Reynolds' agent, though nothing is close on that front. Here's the latest on Reynolds, the Yankees and the Mets...
- The Yankees are in on Reynolds, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but they'll face competition from the Twins, Angels and others in their attempt to land him.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have also expressed interest in Jeff Baker as a potential right-handed bat to get some time at second base and third base (Twitter link). Baker mashed against lefties in 2013, posting a .314/.407/.667 batting line with 10 homers.
- Daniel Murphy has seen his name in trade rumors this offseason, but he says his agents came away from the Winter Meetings with the impression that he'll be with the Mets in 2014, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Sources tell Rubin that the Mets continue to listen on Murphy, but the asking price is high.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says that two to three teams are potential trade partners at shortstop, although the chances of Ruben Tejada starting Opening Day at the position are much better than at the end of the season, Rubin writes. "Well, I think it is more likely certainly than it was a couple of months ago, let's say," the GM said. "But we've improved the team at other positions. And so giving Ruben a chance to reestablish himself as an everyday player isn't such a bad thing. But we'll continue to monitor what's there from the trade market and conceivably free agency, although there really isn't much left there. There are two or three teams that are possibilities."
- Alderson also suggested he would be looking for an equivalent return to what others have received for trading first basemen. The Marlins got 23-year-old Carter Capps from the Mariners for Logan Morrison last week.
- The Mets GM expects a fifth-starter candidate to be signed on a minor-league deal. That would allow Jenrry Mejia, Jacob deGrom, and Rafael Montero to compete for a spot out of spring training and help ensure that top prospect Noah Syndergaard would not be blocked from a summer promotion.
- While it's not a huge surprise, Alderson downplayed the Mets' odds of landing Masahiro Tanaka.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
News from the AL and NL West..
- Agent Scott Boras says he'll talk to the Angels about signing Kendrys Morales, writes the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. The Angels say they are not interested, however, because they need to rebuild a depleted minor league system and they would have to forfeit their first-round draft choice to sign Morales. "We're much more comfortable with the idea of maintaining our first-round pick and continuing to build the organization in a much more positive way," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said.
- In an interview on MLB Network (Twitter link), Dodgers GM Ned Colletti attemped to throw water on Matt Kemp trade rumors, saying that L.A. is higher on the outfielder than anyone.
- Pablo Sandoval's brother, Michael, has recently been certified as an agent and will join his current agent, Gustavo Vazquez, in representing him, writes Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. If the Giants want to discuss an extension, Michael says that his team will listen. Yesterday, GM Brian Sabean indicated that they'd be open to a new deal if he comes to spring training in shape.
- The Giants say they haven't talked to Jeff Baker's agent in a little over a week, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.
- Giants vice president Bobby Evans tells Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (on Twitter) that the club would like to sign a left fielder tonight. Baggarly hears that they like Franklin Gutierrez.
- Rockies manager Walt Weiss says that they have talked to Carlos Gonzalez about possibly playing center field and they think he might be able to manage it, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Sulia).
The Giants are in negotiations with Jeff Baker, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area (on Twitter). Baggarly tweeted earlier that the Giants have "developed a couple pivot points" to add a left fielder, possibly as soon as today. As Baggarly notes, Baker could form a nice platoon with Gregor Blanco.
Baker had a strong .279/.360/.545 slash line in a small sample size of 175 plate appearances in 2013. The 32-year-old, who also has experience in the outfield, has a career slash line of .267/.321/.440 over parts of nine big league seasons. The Rangers designated Baker for assignment in October.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
TODAY: Baker has officially elected to become a free agent, according to MLB.com's transactions page.
OCTOBER 9: The Rangers announced that they have designated Jeff Baker for assignment. The infielder was taken off of the 40-man roster to make room for right-handed pitcher Matt West to be activated off of the 60-day disabled list. The move doesn't make a huge difference in the Rangers' plans as Baker is set to hit the open market this winter.
Baker had a strong .279/.360/.545 slash line in a small sample size of 175 plate appearances this season. The 32-year-old, who also has experience in the outfield, has a career slash line of .267/.321/.440 over parts of nine big league seasons. Last winter, the Yankees were among the clubs that showed interest in Baker when they were in the hunt for a right-handed outfield bat.
To keep track of Baker and all other players in DFA limbo, check out the MLBTR DFA Tracker.
The Astros are 5-16 against the Athletics, Mariners and Rangers this season, but are 7-3 against the Angels following their four-game sweep of the Halos in Anaheim. After last night's defeat, Angels manager Mike Scioscia held a closed-door team meeting and told reporters (including Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times) that "it seems like these four games, a switch flipped off" for his club. "A series like this certainly can bring the frustration back into the team. We can't let that happen," Scioscia said.
Here's the latest from around the division...
- The Angels are likely to be buyers or inactive at the trade deadline, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines. Gonzalez would "be shocked" to see the Halos start selling significant talent at the deadline since he doesn't believe they would give up on the 2014 season as well, plus, "the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton contracts don’t really let you go into rebuild mode."
- The Mariners have no need to pursue an extension with Kendrys Morales now since they'll have leverage on him in free agency this winter, Dave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog writes. If the M's make Morales a qualifying offer after the season, Cameron thinks Morales' market will be very thin since no team was willing to sacrifice a first-round pick as compensation for such a limited player; Adam LaRoche's free agency from last offseason is cited as a comparable. I profiled Morales as a possible trade candidate back in April, but he is hitting well enough (.299/.364/.491 entering today's play) that Seattle may see him as a long-term answer in their lineup if he keeps it up for the rest of the season.
- Many Mariners fans are calling for manager Eric Wedge and/or GM Jack Zduriencik to be fired, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times argues that club president Chuck Armstrong or CEO Howard Lincoln could be ultimately responsible for the Mariners' struggles. "Under the Armstrong/Lincoln regime, this organization has pretty much been run into the ground over the past decade — except for their ability to turn a profit, which the M’s have done almost every season, good, bad, or worse," Stone writes.
- Jeff Baker tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that the Rangers and Yankees the "main two" suitors for his services last offseason, though "a lot of teams knocked on the door." Baker signed with Texas in January, before the Yankees' need for corner infield help became so dire.
- Cavan Biggio is projected to be picked late in the first round or early in the second of Thursday's draft but his famous father isn't putting any pressure on the Astros to pick his son with the 40th overall selection. "I just didn't want the organization to feel they had to take my son because he's my son. I didn't want my son to feel the Astros took him because he's my son," Craig Biggio tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart and Chris Abshire. "I stayed away from it, and Jeff [Luhnow] and I have an excellent relationship. We haven't discussed it all, but he knows my feelings where I'm at." The elder Biggio works as a special assistant to Astros GM Luhnow.
As has been previously discussed on MLBTR, Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is tomorrow at 12:00pm ET (11:00am CT). In other words, by tomorrow afternoon teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top)...
- Rangers manager Ron Washington informed infielder Jeff Baker that he has made the Opening Day roster, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- The Indians announced that Jason Giambi has made the roster but will open the season on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain. Ezequiel Carrera was designated for assignment in order to clear room on the roster.
- The Mariners announced via press release that they have added Kameron Loe to the 25-man roster and transferred Josh Kinney to the 60-day disabled list to create space.
- Smith also tweets that Rick Ankiel is expected to make the team as the everyday right fielder, meaning Houston will have to make a 40-man roster move. Ankiel's base salary will be $750K, and his contract includes incentives based on plate appearances.
- LaTroy Hawkins has been informed that he will make the Mets' 25-man roster, writes ESPN's Adam Rubin. The Mets currently have an open spot on their 40-man roster, meaning no corresponding move would have to be made. Hawkins will earn a base salary of approximately $1MM for making the team.
- Pedro Feliciano, another Mets non-roster invitee, is still deciding whether or not to opt out of his contract or take his $100K bonus and report to Triple-A, Rubin tweets. Feliciano was told he would not make the Mets' roster yesterday.
- Red Sox bench hopeful Lyle Overbay says he has "no idea" as to whether or not the team will add him to the 25-man roster, according to the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber (Twitter link). Overbay has plenty on the line, as he'll earn $1.25MM (with $250K more available via incentives) if he makes the Opening Day roster.