Jeff Baker signed a two-year deal with the Miami Marlins, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. The 32 year-old Baker is guaranteed $3.7 million. Over parts of eight seasons and nearly 1500 plate appearances with the Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies, Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves, Baker produced a pedestrian .266/.316/.428 line for a 90 wRC+ and 1.9 fWAR. He struck out in 23.5 percent of his plate appearances.
However, 2013 was a different story for Baker. Playing a part time role for the Texas Rangers, the veteran saw playing time at five different positions, though he spent the bulk of his time between left field and first base. In 175 plate appearances, he clubbed 11 home runs and batted .279/.360/.545, for a 143 wRC+. While he struck out in 27.4 percent of his plate appearances, he also walked in 10.3 percent of his plate appearances.
For his career, Baker has hit left-handed pitching very well, while struggling greatly against righties. Against lefties he has a career batting line of .298/.353/.522 for a 128 wRC+, compared to .236/.288/.358 against same-handed pitching. He’s not much of a defender or baserunner, so his value depends on his ability to be one-half of a platoon or a bat off the bench.
Earlier in the offseason, the Marlins signed veteran first baseman Garrett Jones, who was coincidentally born on the same day and year as Baker. The two will likely form a platoon at first base. Jones, a left-handed bat, is rendered nearly useless by southpaws, as shown by his career .193/.234/.344 line, which comes out to a woeful 53 wRC+. He’s fared much better against righties, and he has a .271/.337/.489 line and a 124 wRC+ to show for it.
The two figure to be an upgrade on last year’s first base situation. Marlins first basemen led by Greg Dobbs and the now-departed Logan Morrison, hit a combined .230/.309/.333 in 2013, for a 76 wRC+ that was the third worst mark in the major leagues, behind only the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies.