Trade For Baker Gives Tigers Righty Bat Off Bench

The Deal
The rebuilding Cubs traded their fifth veteran in the past week, thus creating more playing time for prospects, by trading veteran Jeff Baker to the Tigers for two players to be named. Chicago then called up third baseman Josh Vitters and center fielder Brett Jackson, the organization’s first-round selections from 2007 and 2009, from Triple-A Iowa.

UPDATE: The Tigers sent 21-year-old righthander Marcelo Carreno and cash considerations to the Cubs on Oct. 16 to complete the deal. However, Detroit no longer employed Baker’s services at the time, not after dealing him to the Braves for righty Greg Ross on Aug. 31. Baker went 7-for-35 (.200) with two extra-base hits in 15 games with the Tigers, while the organization swapped out low Class A arms, effectively trading Carreno (plus cash) for Ross (plus two weeks of Baker).

Among National League clubs, only the Central Division-rival Astros (36-73) have a worse record than Chicago (43-63) heading into the final third of the season. Prospects like Jackson, Vitters, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and catcher Welington Castillo have fewer rivals for playing time following the trades of Baker, Reed Johnson and Geovany Soto.

 
Cubs Acquire
Marcelo Carreno, rhp

Age: 21.

Born: June 26, 1991 in Edo Nueva Esparta, Venezuela.

Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 170. Bats: R. Throws: R.

Career Transactions: Signed as international free agent by Tigers, Oct. 11, 2007.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
W. Michigan (MWL)

LoA 9 8 3.23 27 27 0

139

129 55 50 5 28 119

1.13

Carreno snuck on to the back of the short-season New York-Penn League top 20 prospects list following his age-19 campaign with Connecticut in 2010. He’s shown swing-and-miss stuff the last two years while repeating the low Class A Midwest League, though he made a breakthrough with his control and general efficiency this year. Carreno ranked eighth in the MWL with a 3.23 ERA and fifth with a 1.13 WHIP while walking just 1.8 batters per nine innings. He throws strikes with a live low-90s fastball he throws to both sides of the plate, and while his curveball and changeup are presently below-average, he has shown he can rotate the former and sink the latter at times. Scouts who like Carreno see three future average pitches and the clean pitching mechanics required to profile as a starter.

 
Tigers Acquire
Jeff Baker, 1b/rf/2b

Age: 31. Bats: R. Contract Terms: Signed one-year, $1.375 million deal for 2012 season.

Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) Year AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Chicago (NL) 2012 .269 54 134 16 36 10 1 4 20 8 28 4 .306 .448
3-Year Totals

.270 214 541 65 146 35 4 11 64 34 124 5 .312 .410

Remaining Commitment: Approximately $229,000 for August and September, then eligible for free agency for the first time.

Impact On Tigers Depth Chart: Baker has a well-earned reputation as a lefty masher because he’s hit .304/.352/.516 (.869 OPS) with 25 homers in 664 career plate appearances against southpaws. His OPS falls off to .660 versus righties, so he’s not any kind of option for regular play against them (except as an alternative to regular DH Delmon Young). However, with the Tigers starting Quintin Berry and Brennan Boesch, lefty batters both, on the outfield corners, Baker ought to see plenty of action when Detroit is opposed by a lefty starter. He also plays both infield corners, though he’d assume regular time there only in the event of injury to third baseman Miguel Cabrera or first baseman Prince Fielder.

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