Blue Jays add minor league depth with Daric Barton deal


A few years ago, 2010 to be exact, Daric Barton was nearly a 5-win first baseman for the Oakland Athletics. Fast forward five years and he’s inking a deal a minor league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays according to an official team release via Twitter.

After that magical 2010 campaign, where Daric Barton posted a solid .273/.393/.405 season with a wRC+ of 126, 10 home runs, 57 RBI, and a league-leading 110 walks, the first baseman fell on hard times and has played in just 180 games in the Major Leagues since. In the four seasons that followed, he hit just .216/.323/.284 with 4 home runs and 48 RBI in an even 600 plate appearances.

Barton would be a unique reclamation project for the Blue Jays, given his once proud prospect status. The 29-year-old was ranked in the top 50 of all baseball prospects in three different seasons by Baseball America and was ranked as high as #22 by Baseball Prospectus in 2008. That helped make Barton one of the key pieces that came back to Oakland, along with Kiko Calero and Dan Haren, in the trade the sent Mark Mulder from the A’s to the St. Louis Cardinals in December 2004.

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However, while his batting eye has always been keen, the power that scouts thought Barton would grow into never came to be. While he was an excellent fielder at the first base bag (career marks of 9.2 UZR/150 and DRS of 37), the lack of power ended up hurting him as a corner infielder and ultimately cost him his job.

In a lot of ways, he reminds me a lot of former Blue Jays first baseman (and former A’s player for that matter) Dan Johnson. Neither had the consistent power at the plate at the Major League level to stick at the position. Like Johnson, he will start the season at Triple-A Buffalo and may see some action in Toronto at some point this season depending on injury issues. He’ll give the Blue Jays some depth at first base, where the team lacks minor league options with Major League experience that could chip in.

As far as reclamation goes, unless someone finds something in his swing that has been missing since he turned pro, I have a feeling that Daric Barton is exactly who we’ve seen over the course of his 8-year career. Still, if history serves us at all, he’ll have a role with the Blue Jays at some point this season.