Right-handed pitcher Brad Baker is the first addition to the Atlanta Braves' roster this offseason as the team signed the six-year free agent to a 2006 contract. Baker was added to the 40-man roster. He replaces outfielder Billy McCarthy, who missed most of last season with injuries.
Baker spent last season with the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League. He saved 27 games in 37 opportunities and had a 4.75 ERA in 59 games. Baker allowed 69 hits in 66.3 innings pitched, with 35 earned runs allowed, 32 walks, and 75 strikeouts.
The Padres acquired Baker from the Boston Red Sox in June of 2002 in the Alan Embree trade. Baker had been drafted by his hometown Red Sox in the sandwich round of the 1999 draft. He began his career as a starter, winning twelve games for Augusta in 2000. The Padres switched him to a closer in 2004 and he was the Southern League's Pitcher of the Year after posting 30 saves for Mobile.
Baker just turned 25 in early November. The six-foot-two, 180-pound right-hander has an outstanding changeup, along with a fastball that is in the 88-91 range. Baseball America had Baker rated as the Padres' ninth best prospect before the 2005 season.
McCarthy was taken off the 40-man roster after being out for most of the 2005 season. He was injured in spring training in an exhibition game against the Dodgers, banging up his knee. McCarthy then struggled in Triple-A Richmond hitting only .226 in 239 at bats with 5 home runs and 23 RBI. The right-handed hitting outfielder will probably be a non-roster invitee next spring if he is healthy.
The Braves will announce their entire 40-man roster on Friday.
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Braves Sign Brad Baker
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