Mike Baxter, Because Sure, Why Not

baxter_mike_metsVia press release, the Dodgers announced that they claimed outfielder Mike Baxter off waivers from the Mets, and designated Alex Castellanos for assignment.

Baxter, 29 in December, has a .229/.335/.348 line in 415 plate appearances across four major league seasons for the Padres (2010) and the Mets (2011-13), mostly playing right field, though he’s seen time in left (and, in the minors, first base), as well.

If he’s known for anything — he’s not, really — it’s that he’s a Queens native who helped save Johan Santana‘s 2012 no-hitter (the first in Mets history) with this catch off a Yadier Molina ball in the seventh inning:

In true Mets fashion, he fractured his clavicle on the play and missed the next two months, after missing a huge part of the previous year with a thumb injury. (So I guess he’ll fit right in.) In 155 plate appearances this year for the Mets, he hit just .189/.303/.250, though he did better in the Pacific Coast League (.289/.380/.519) because everyone hits in the Pacific Coast League. He’s just a guy, nothing more. (And no, to head off the inevitable questions, he’s not eligible for postseason play.)

Speaking of guys who hit well in the PCL but could never make it work in the bigs, Castellanos! Long a guy we’d hoped could help take some platoon burden off of Andre Ethier, the return for Rafael Furcal received only 43 plate appearances in two years for the Dodgers, just 18 this year, and had clearly fallen behind Scott Van Slyke on the depth chart. He didn’t have nearly as good as year in Albuquerque this year as he did last year, and since he’s already 27, he’s not much of a prospect either.

Frankly, this is purely a lateral — read: unimportant either way — move to me. Baxter has some small amount of utility as a pinch-hitter (.313/417/.463 in 84 plate appearances), but the last thing this team needs is outfielders. If he makes it through the winter on the 40-man, that’s a mild surprise; if he actually sees time in 2014, that’s a much larger one. For now, consider him the next Dallas McPherson or Nick Evans (whose spot he actually took in New York in 2011) — guys who briefly float through the system, never to be heard from or thought of again.