From the Wire … Cubs Sign Scott Baker to One-Year Deal

The Cubs signed right-handed pitcher Scott Baker to a one-year contract worth a reported $5.5 million that includes an incentive package worth an additional $1.5 million.

The 31-year old right hander missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April of 2012. Scott Baker last pitched in the majors in 2011 and started 21 games for the Twins. In 23 games, 21 starts, Baker posted a 8-6 record with a 3.14 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Baker owns a 63-48 mark in 163 big league games, 159 starts, with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. In 958 innings, Baker has better than a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio (770 strikeouts, 224 walks).

With the addition of Scott Baker, the Cubs 40-man roster stands at 37 players.

Scott Baker is one of several starting pitchers the Cubs have been linked to already this off-season. The Cubs are known to be looking to add at least two starters to their roster and if healthy, Baker could fill one of the spots.

Scott Baker’s Page on Baseball-Reference

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  • daverj

    Nice pick-up. My only concern is that given that the surgery was performed in April 2012, he won’t be in the rotation until early May and won’t be back to his old form until July. That might limit the return we get for him come the trade deadline.

    • cubs1967

      his IP limit will be 150?……..so 5.5M for a 3/4 of a pitcher, over 30, with no option if he does well; seems like team Theo are ensuring the 2013 version rivals the 2012 version in losses; its all about the draft pick though. even if he becomes theo’s version of an “asset” ;what are your really gonna get for a 31 yr old coming off TJ surgery; this is really just a “body”.(and no option for the team if he does well).
      105 yrs and counting…………here we come.

      • daverj

        From what I have read, an option year was the sticking point in negotiations between the Twins and Baker. In order to sign Baker away from the Twins, the Cubs had to make it for 2013 only without an option. Not sure what you mean about the “draft pick” … under the new rules the Cubs won’t get a draft pick for Baker if he leaves as a free agent after 2013 unless they offer him a large 1 year contact for 2014 (I think this season the required contract was $13.3 million).

        If you were Epstein, what would you do now? What would you have done differently last year that would have had a meaningful effect on the win-loss column? Payed more than $250 million for Pujols?

        Epstein inherited a very bad situation. It’s going to take at least a few years to build a winner.

        • WidespreadHisPanic

          Well said, man.

          This is a nice signing.

          The plan isn’t to sign an ace and I’m pretty sure the front office doesn’t want to suck again like in ’11 or ever.

          Good move by the Cubs.

          • cc002600

            Hope you’re right, but paying $5.5M to a guy that had TJ in April seems pretty risky to me.

            He will only be 12 months removed from the surgery when next season begins. I think its awful optimistic to expect much out of this guy in the first half of the season. I think they could have spent the money better somewhere else.

          • Tony_Hall

            The going rate for a SP on the free agent market is $8-$10M for just an average SP. This contract is a good deal overall.

        • paulcatanese

          A few years means 3 or more. Meaning the Cubs are at least into 2016 for a winner. Those “few” years were talked about last year, now it starts all over again in 2013.
          What would I do if I were Epstein, well for one I would not be signing old, retread, coming off surgery pitchers.
          I would rather bring up everything I have from the system at $450,000 a year and not be dropping millions on those guys.
          The system could do just as well in dropping over 100 games, at a much lower cost.
          Thats what I would have done last year and probably the same this year, It cannot get worse.

          • Tony_Hall

            Paul – If there were players in our system that were ready they would do this, but bringing guys that are not ready is not going to help develop any players. Signing stop gap guys like Baker at really not much money for a SP on the free agent market is the way to go.

        • BosephHeyden

          By draft pick, he means the Cubs don’t actually care if they lose another 100 games so long as they get a high draft pick to show for it at the end of the season.

      • Tony_Hall

        Please actually have your facts right before going off in the wrong direction…

    • ChadAudio

      I have the same concern… It’s almost as if you’d like to see him start in the pen or minors to get his strength back first. But, I’m sure that’s not the plan at all – he’ll go right into the rotation under the assumption that he can’t do any worse than Casey Coleman at starting.

      This is an OK signing in my book… there just aren’t many options out there. I’m still pulling for a Haren and/or McCarthy signing though.

  • John_CC

    Good move. Yes.

    • WidespreadHisPanic

      …and yes.

      Good move.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Way to stick with the plan on this one…

    • WidespreadHisPanic

      Yes.

    • Cloycub13

      My guess is Liriano is next. Haren= too pricey, Mccarthy would be my choice but I do not see it happening, the rest can be overpaid by someone else.
      I would really like to see BJ but like many have said his OBP makes him less than desirable at the price.
      I have to agree that this is a solid pick up that fits right into the plan and it is only the first salvo.

  • Aaron

    kind of a mixed bag of scouting reports for Baker. 60ft6in has him at 88-95 mph with his fastball, while other reports have him 87-91 mph. I’m not sure which is correct.

    Judging by his numbers…and with a transition to the NL where there are not as many potent offensive teams, you have to like his chances of duplicating…or even besting his 2011 season best of 3.14 ERA….probably a good bet.

    I like the move if he’s in the 88-95 mph range. I’m not liking it so much if it’s the latter of the two ranges. Why? Because they already tried that with Germano, Berken, etc., and it just doesn’t work in today’s game.

    The Cubs absolutely MUST have breakthrough years from the following pitchers:
    McNutt
    Cabrera
    Paniagua

    ….those are the 3 guys most likely to reach MLB in the next 1-2 years. They need power arms, and all 3 have power stuff.

    • Dorasaga

      In case TomU missed it for his Winter games-report: Boise Hawks RHP Yao-lin Wang started against the formidable National Team of Cuba. He pitched a gem, in an exhibition game at Taiwan.

      Spanish:
      http://www.havanatimes.org/sp/?p=74988

      If his national team (Chinese Taipei “Taiwan”) won the qualifier for the World Baseball Classic, then Wang might keep going and start more games, which is worrisome.

      Wang has been bounced from relieving to starting since late the past season. But if a pitching prospect is really good, maybe it’s best that he rests this winter until March? Before he extends his routine, adds more stress by starting more games?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Major trade rumored to be happening between the Marlins and Blue Jays … Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and possibly Jose Reyes going to Toronto.

        • daverj

          Pretty crazy deal. The Marlins picked up four very highly regarded young players and dumped a couple bad contracts they signed last year. Nice deal for the Marlins. On the other hand, I also like the deal for the Jays. The Yanks and Sox have come down a bit so there may be a 1 or 2 year opportunity for a team like the Jays.

          • Baron_S

            most AL pitchers coming to the NL lose at least 0.50 off their previous ERAs… if this guy can pitch 180 innings in the low 3.00s — its a win and a bargain…. remember when Z was making $18 million?? this will be 7 tops for a great season from Baker.

            Garza, Samardjza, Baker, Wood — not the worst 4 in the world… give you a shot to win everyday with a competent offense, which the Cubs haven’t had in about 5 years.

        • RynoTiger

          gosh..and didn’t the Marlins spend a lot last off season..and here they’ve already traded all those guys one season later…Perhaps it’s true that spending lots of money in the off season doesn’t guarantee having a better team and record after all…hmmm????

          Interesting read with this article. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/joe_sheehan/11/08/winning-the-winter/index.html

          • Tony_Hall

            Consider that the Marlins and Angels “won” the off season last year….yet they watched the playoffs from home.

          • Tom U

            Alberto Cabrera has joined Toros del Etse in the DWL. In relief of Horacio Ramirez, Cabrera went 1.2 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

      • Tom U

        Thanks for the update Dorasaga. There is some debate as to which role Wang would be effective in. While not necessarily small (6-foot, 180 pounds), his size did give some scouts concerns over his stamina and durability. However, Wang’s best pitch is a 12-6 curveball that he seemed to have trouble consistently getting the feel for as a reliever. One thing that I have seen both in Boise and Peoria, is that when he has the feel for his curve, he can be unhittable.

        • Dorasaga

          Good to know, Tom! I’m not even sure if there was ever an effective closer who relies on a curveball.

    • SuzyS

      Aaron, where do you see Austin Kirk in the scenario???
      For one year, I’m ok with the Baker pick-up…It’s still a wait and see situation.
      This year is the really tough one….not much to trade and not much mlb ready minor leaguers.
      By the end of next season…we should have a better idea of a window for true competition…with the progression of guys like Dillon Maples…etc.

      • Aaron

        I almost posted Kirk as well, but thought better of it. He is a slightly better version of Rusin and Raley. He also has a no-hitter under his belt. He once hit mid-90’s with his fastball, but from what I understand, he’s more in the 87-91 mph range right now, which just won’t cut it with marginal pure stuff.

  • Cubs 31

    Two Twins are now with the Cubs. Will there be a 3rd one? Liriano. Am down here in Fort Myers and have watched all three. I know Carlos personally and sent him congrats for being a Cub.

  • Cubs 31

    Guys, don’t forget that Theo was the GM of the Red Sox. The Red Sox have spring training in Fort Myers and so do the Twins. The Twins and Red Sox play each in spring training a minimum of 6 times. So Theo is very familiar with the Twins pitching staff.

  • Aaron

    After the Blue Jays trade, it seems the Jays might not have a need for a few players, and the Cubs need to look into it:

    Lind (out of options 28 yr old OF/1B): only 2 yrs removed from a 26 hr, 87 RBI season, and 3 yrs removed from a 35 hr, 114 RBI season. He’s almost like Stewart in that he just needs a change of scenery badly…also, he doesn’t have the injury history of Stewart.

    McGowan (out of options 28 yr old, oft injured starter/reliever): 92-96 mph fastball, 86-91 mph slider (4 pitch guy)

    Cecil (out of options 26 yr old lefty starter): 87-94 mph fastball, 82-88 mph slider (4 pitch guy)

    Rogers (out of options 27 yr old reliever/starter): 94-97 mph fastball (used mostly as reliever, but started early in career with Rockies)