Despite a virtual logjam in their outfield, the defending National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers have made what appears to be a shrewd signing.
Today, the #Dodgers agreed to one-year contracts with OF Mike Baxter, C Drew Butera and LHP Scott Elbert, avoiding arbitration.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) November 29, 2013
In addition to signing catcher Drew Butera and lefty Scott Elbert to 1-year pacts, the Dodgers have agreed with a more high-profile (at least relatively) player in outfielder Mike Baxter. Baxter was claimed off of waivers by the Dodgers in October, but he did not appear in a single game for Los Angeles during 2013.
However, Baxter does have over 400 plate appearances in the big leagues as a member of the Mets, and he’s been relatively productive. The 28-year-old outfielder has just a .683 OPS for his career, but much of that is due to a dismal 2013 where he slugged just .250 (yikes) over 155 PA’s with New York. Prior to that, Baxter was a 1.1 WAR player in limited time during 2012, and that is surely the type of asset that Los Angeles must believe that they’re getting here.
Because the Dodgers will presumably enter 2014 with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Yasiel Puig (or at least 3 of the 4) in the lineup, there is absolutely no pressure on Baxter to be anything more than a role player with LA. I firmly believe he can succeed in that role, and if he shows that he’s capable of that production level, he becomes a worthy asset.