Blue Jays Sign Daric Barton to Minor League Deal: Dan Johnson 2.0?

Dan Johnson preparing to get a handshake from manager Gary Allenson after hitting a home run.
Dan Johnson preparing to get a handshake from manager Gary Allenson after hitting a home run.


Finally, the signing that I’ve been waiting for: a left-handed hitting first baseman/DH type. The Blue Jays went out and signed former Oakland Athletics’ Daric Barton.



Over the last couple of years, the Blue Jays had weapons from both sides of the plate at first base and DH positions with Edwin Encarnacion hitting from the right side and Adam Lind hitting from the left. Obviously, Edwin was getting to play just about every day but having a guy who could crush right-handed pitching was extremely advantageous for the Blue Jays.


The Blue Jays have also liked to have platoon-worthy players hanging around in Buffalo just in case they were needed. In 2013, the tandem of Luis Jimenez and Mauro Gomez fulfilled this platoon, giving the Jays Quad-A guys that they could call on in an emergency. In 2014, the Jays had Dan Johnson hitting from the left side and several guys who hit from the right including Brett Wallace, Matt Tuiasosopo and, at the end of the season, Matt Hague. Hague remains with the club and Johnson had a tremendous season, earning a big league paycheque at the end of the year but Johnson has signed on to a minor league deal with the Astros and Wallace remains a free agent.


With Johnson, the left-handed hitter, and with Matt Hague and Jake Fox, both right-handed hitters, under contract, I’ve been waiting for the Blue Jays to pick up a left-handed hitting first baseman and they chose to get a guy who is very similar to Dan Johnson in a few ways.


Barton is 29 and was drafted originally by the St. Louis Cardinals as a first-round pick (28th overall) in the 2003 draft. He was traded the following year to Oakland as a part of the deal that sent Mark Mulder to St. Louis. Barton eventually made the big leagues with Oakland, playing on a full-time basis in 2008 and 2010, becoming a walk machine (leading the AL with 110 walks in 2010) and has consistently posted OBPs well over 100 points higher than his batting average. As a part-time player in 2011-2014, Barton’s stock fell and he spent most of his time in the minor leagues, putting up middling batting averages but solid OBPs with a little bit of power.


While Johnson has consistently shown more power over the course of his career (particularly putting up ISO numbers in the .200 range in Triple-A), Barton appears to be more of a doubles hitter that, when combined with the number of walks he takes, makes him a potentially solid bat.


When comparing K% and BB%, Barton has a better walk rate than Johnson and a slightly higher strikeout rate but he’s still better than average in that respect. That said, Barton is going to need help from the BABIP gods to bring his batting average up to useful levels. If he’s in the low-.200s, he’s not going to hit for enough power to contribute at the big-league level.


All in all, it’s a nice little signing that I’ve been waiting for. With a left-handed hitting option at first base for the Buffalo Bisons, the club already has a couple of right-handed hitting options in Fox and Hague. It’ll be interesting to see what goes down in the Queen City (Buffalo) at the corner infield spots!


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