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Rangers sign Jeff Baker to minor league deal

The Rangers add a potential option for their Opening Day bench by signing righthanded hitting utilityman Jeff Baker to a minor league deal

Jonathan Daniel

The Rangers have signed righthanded utilityman Jeff Baker to a minor league deal.

Baker, who has spent 8 years in the majors with the Rockies, Tigers, Braves and Cubs, is an interesting signing, and a guy who probably has a pretty decent shot at breaking camp with the Rangers this year.

One of the things we've talked about is that the Rangers need a righty-hitting 4C guy to fill out their bench. Baker has some fairly significant career splits, hitting .238/.291/.363 against righthanders while putting up a .296/.344/.498 line against lefties. Baker didn't hit anyone last season, putting up a 656 OPS overall and a 665 OPS against lefties. Prior to that, though, he put up a .314/.349/.463 line against lefties in 129 plate appearances in 2011, and a .350/.395/.550 line in 152 plate appearances against lefties in 2010.

Baker also can play every infield position except shortstop, as well as left field or right field, so if he can bounce back from his disappointing 2012 season, he could have some value, particularly since he's been a bench player his whole career and is obviously used to that sort of role.

That said, that's a pretty huge "if"...Baker turns 32 in June, and early 30s is an age where marginal players tend to go bad quickly. Baker may simply be done. But if he has some life left in the bat, he could be an upgrade for Texas over Brandon Snyder, the favorite for the 4C job going into camp.