Cubs Land Utility Infielder Jeff Baker From Rockies

Seeking a utility infielder, Cubs general manager Jim Hendry acquired 28-year old Jeff Baker from the Rockies, sending 23-year-old high Class A righthander Al Alburquerque to Colorado.

The Rockies’ fourth-round pick in 2002 out of Clemson, Baker batted .268/.322/.468 with the Rockies last season, with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs in 104 games. His season was interrupted in August 2008, though, when he suffered a concussion as the result of being hit on the helmet with a pitch from Jason Marquis, then with the Cubs. Baker sustained yet another injury, a hand sprain, this spring when hit by a pitch on his left hand just 12 games into the season. The Rockies placed him on the 60-day disabled list, and Baker had spent the two weeks prior to the trade rehabbing at various levels.

Baker, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, is a righthanded hitting infielder who can play either corner infield positions as well as second base. Though he’s not lightning quick, he has sure hands. He’s a natural pull hitter who tries to drive the ball to left field and often sacrifices contact by opening early.

The Young
Alburquerque went 1-0, 2.08 in 24 appearances for Daytona, logging 44 strikeouts and 14 walks in 34 2/3 innings. He allowed just four home runs. Signed by the Cubs out of the Dominican Republic in 2003, Alburquerque projects as a middle reliever at the big league level, but he’ll have to prove he can stay healthy to reach that ceiling. He missed both the 2005 and 2008 seasons with injury, meaning that in six pro seasons, Alburquerque has appeared in just 68 games, serving mostly as a reliever. The 6-foot, 150-pound righthander pitched strictly out of the bullpen this season, where his fastball sat a consistent 88-92 mph
Baker, who was out of options, became available because of Colorado’s plethora of infield options—Ian Stewart, Troy Tulowitzki, Clint Barmes, Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins—and his pending return from the DL. Baker will serve as primary backup to Aramis Ramirez at third base, and he should be in the mix to start a few games at second base against lefthanded pitchers.

Trade Central 2009