Texas Rangers Could Bring Back Jeff Baker as Designated Hitter and Role Player

Jeffrey Kahn@jkahn24Correspondent IIJanuary 8, 2014

ARLINGTON, TX - JUNE 10: Jeff Baker #15 of the Texas Rangers is congratulated for hitting a two run home run in the fourth inning] against the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on June 10, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

With names like Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales in the free-agent market, the Texas Rangers could bring back Jeff Baker as a designated hitter and role player.

Gerry Fraley of The Dallas Morning News reported in a January article that "The Rangers are interested in having Jeff Baker on the bench again this season."

What exactly does this mean?

Baker could hit against left-handed pitchers while Mitch Moreland would hit against right-handed pitchers.

It was once rumored that newly acquired outfielder, Michael Choice, would be put into a platoon role with Moreland at the designated hitter spot. This was reported by columnist Drew Davison of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram in a December 2013 article.

Daniels said the plan is to go with a platoon at designated hitter, with Mitch Moreland facing right-handers and Michael Choice or another right-handed bat against lefties. A caveat to that, Daniels said, is when manager Ron Washington uses the DH slot to give regulars a "mini" break.

Bringing Baker back doesn't imply that the Rangers are set on their designated hitter. However, it brings competition to a spot later in the lineup that may need some production. The benefit of bringing back Baker on a small contract also gives the team added depth to the defensive side of the ball.

Baker saw the most time in left field and first base for the Rangers in 2013, with 21 games at each position. He also played 10 games at third base, where he made his only error of the year. Baker also has experience at second base, but it's highly unlikely that he'll push rising star Jurickson Profar out of the way.

Last year Baker was signed to a one-year minor league contract worth $1.75 million. In a December 2013 article, Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post believed that Baker could get up to $4 million.

If the Rangers don't pursue an impact designated hitter in free agency, then Baker would be an excellent signing to increase competition in the platoon and provide necessary depth in the field.