On October 17, 2013 just as the Los Angeles Dodgers were preparing to fly to St. Louis for Game 6 of the NLCS, they claimed outfielder Mike Baxter from the New York Mets while designating outfielder Alex Castellanos for assignment.
Baxter, 29, was with the Mets for three years and his shining moment came in 2012 when he made an incredible catch to preserve Johan Santana’s no hitter against the Cardinals. However, the catch would come with a price as he was placed on the disabled list and never got back on track in Queens.
In his big league career, the New York native has never played in more than 89 games and projects to be a reserve outfielder/pinch hitter with the Dodgers. The team and Baxter avoided arbitration for the 2014 season, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $700,000 as he’s currently fighting for a spot on the Dodgers bench.
This will prove to be a tall order as outfielder/infielder Scott Van Slyke has the inside track to winning the fifth outfielder spot due to his versatility to play multiple positions. The Dodgers bench is one of the areas of concern at the moment, with questions lingering over whether or not Alex Guerrero can handle second base from day one. Because of this, the Dodgers might be forced to carry an extra infielder or two, possibly squeezing Baxter out of a possible roster spot.
Baxter is also competing with outfielder Nick Buss, who had a cup of coffee with the Dodgers, but it’s more than likely he begins the year at Triple A. Spring training games get underway in just three days and with a condensed schedule to get ready for the 2014 season, Baxter is facing some long odds to make the team.
2014 outlook: Depending how the second base situation shakes out, Baxter might found himself on the outside looking in. Van Slyke is likely ahead of him on the depth chart, but a strong spring could give him a chance for the coaching staff to make a decision. If he doesn’t make the team, Baxter will start the season in Triple A while waiting for a chance in the big.
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