Looking for more right-handed hitting to add to their bench, the Braves acquired utility player Jeff Baker after he’d been designated for assignment Friday by Detroit, for a player to be named or cash considerations.
By making the trade before midnight Friday, Baker would be eligible to play on the Braves postseason roster.
Baker, 31, has batted .254 (43-for-169) with four home runs and 24 RBI in 69 games with the Tigers and Chicago Cubs this season. He has hit .298 (189-for-634) in his career against left-handers, including .248 (29-for-117) with 10 doubles and three home runs this season.
“We’re a left-handed hitting dominant team,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “And one of the things we’ve been trying to do is get a little more balance and get another right-handed bat….We seem to get a lot of not only left-handed starters but left-handed relievers stacked up late in a game because of all our left-handed hitters. It gives Fredi (Gonzalez) another option to go to to balance out the lineup a little bit.”
During the course of his career, Baker has played second base (153 games), third base (89 games), first base (89 games), right field (65 games) and left field (11 games). He’s played all five positions this season, primarily right field (25 games) and first base (20).
This is Baker’s second trade within a month. He hit only .200 in 15 games for the Tigers, but Wren said the Braves are hoping he’ll be buoyed by a return to the National League.
“That was also part of our thinking,” Wren said. “Get him back here in this league where he’s experienced with these pitchers and these parks and hopefully he’ll be the same hitter he’s been.”
Baker was drafted out of Clemson in the fourth round by the Rockies in 2002 and has played the better part of his eight seasons with the Rockies and Cubs.
The Braves are hoping he can join the team in Atlanta on Saturday, but Baker was driving from Detroit to his home in northern Virginia on Friday evening when the trade was made.
“I said, ‘Well I-75 runs from Detroit to Atlanta,” Wren said. “Get on I-75 you can’t go wrong.”