Daric Barton has had the strangest of career trajectories.
A golden boy after coming to Oakland in the Mark Mulder trade with St. Louis in December 2004, Barton could do no wrong, especially when he was racking up high walk totals.
Barton, though, didn't develop the sort of power associated with first base, and his best attribute at the position wound up being his defense.
That wasn't enough to keep him in the big leagues, especially when a rough start at the plate in 2011 affected Barton's play in the field. Not hitting much, and making too many errors, he was sent down in June and has seen little time with Oakland since then.
And yet: He's still here, six years after his major-league debut at the age of 22. He's the longest-tenured position player in A's camp - and don't rule him out entirely for a roster spot. Barton remains the best defensive first baseman here, for one thing, and the incumbent first baseman, Brandon Moss, is actually an outfielder.
Barton is on a non-guaranteed contract. He gets his $1.1 million deal only if he makes the team, and he is out of options. So this spring is it as far as his Oakland career is concerned. He makes the team, or he goes elsewhere.
Barton was surprised the A's even wanted him back.
"To be honest, I didn't think it would happen. Nothing pointed to me signing here," he said. "But when they offered it, I said, 'Yeah, I love it here.' It caught me off guard, but it's nice knowing that they brought me back. I can't say a bad word about this organization. They've given me chances."
Sometimes, health affected Barton's performance, a shoulder injury in 2011 especially. But other times, he might have fallen into the walk trap: The team valued getting on base so much and preached patience so thoroughly, that some players in recent years have spent more time looking than swinging.
"There's a difference between being patient and passive," one American League scout said. "Barton started to look to get walked."


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