The Pirates announced Tuesday that they’ve hired former big league catcher John Baker as their new director of coaching and player development. Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the hiring of Baker, who’d been with the Cubs since 2016 and spent the 2020 campaign as the club’s mental skills coach.
“We are excited to add John to our baseball operations leadership team,” said general manager Ben Cherington in a press release announcing the move. “John’s experience as a player, his training and experience as a mental skills coach for a highly successful franchise, and his continued learning in the areas of skill acquisition and human performance, give him valuable perspective on the entire player improvement and performance process. John will work closely with our minor league staff and players to help lead our player development program.”
Baker, 39, spent parts of seven seasons in the Majors from 2008-14, hitting a combined .247/.330/.341 through 1228 plate appearances with the Marlins, Padres and Cubs. His first role with the Cubs was as a special assistant with the baseball operations department, and he’s since held the titles of mental skills coordinator and head applied mental skills coach.
Baker isn’t the first recently retired big leaguer to dive into the player development track for the next stage of his baseball career. Former big league infielder Chris Getz is currently serving as the White Sox farm director himself, while former right-hander Brandon Gomes held that same post with the Dodgers prior to being promoted to assistant general manager in 2019.