• Does A Deal With Scott Baker Make Sense?

    Will Scott Baker Return?Yesterday, teams looking for free agent starting pitching this offseason were dealt a minor blow by the Texas Rangers. Colby Lewis, the solid starting pitcher of the Rangers, re-signed with them at the bargain price of $2 million plus incentives.

    If that sounds shrewd, it’s continuing a trend. Lewis has been outpacing the relatively meager sums the Rangers have been paying him since they signed him when he returned from Japan. In the three years since, he has thrown 500 innings for them with a 3.93 ERA. He was scheduled to be a free agent in a couple of months, his chance to make really big money.

    That changed back in July. Lewis came out of game with pain in his forearm. A few days later he was diagnosed with a torn flexor tendon which was going to cause him to miss the rest of the season. While he should be OK to begin next season, it was unlikely any team was going to offer him the big multi-year deal his recent performance deserved. They would want a shorter, incentive-laden deal to make sure they weren’t burned. But Texas beat them to that punch, signing Lewis to a $2M deal with the chance to make $4M in incentives.

    The Twins could face a similar opportunity with one of their own pitchers. Scott Baker is coming back from Tommy John surgery he had in April. He might be ready for the beginning of the year, or soon thereafter, though he’ll likely face an inning limit at some point next year. This offseason, he’ll also be looking for a deal like Lewis was – short, incentive-based, and looking to rebuild interest in his considerable talent.

    The Twins could offer him that right now, a month before any other team can consider it. A deal similar to that signed by Lewis would keep Baker in the organization during his rehab, give the Twins some cost certainty about the price of their rotation and cross off one more spot they need to fill on the free agent market.

    However, a Twins-Baker contract would need one additional aspect: a team option on 2014. It could be a fairly expensive option – perhaps $8M – so both Baker and the team feel like they would reap the rewards of a successful recovery. I don’t know if either side is exploring this kind of a deal, but it makes a lot of sense to a pitcher that needs a team and a team that needs pitching.
    This article was originally published in blog: Should Twins Sign Scott Baker Now? started by John Bonnes
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      One thing that needs to be mentioned is that Baker has been tossing the ball around for a few weeks now and reportedly said that he feels "good" and "strong". Not sure about whether he is on a certain publicized schedule. The fact that he is a free agent the end of the season also means that he cannot use Twins' facilities for rehab.

      I can see him settle for an 1+1 year deal with the +1 option guaranteed to be the same as the 2013 option if he reaches a threshold. Lot's of incentives for the first season as well. I think that the Twins like the devils they know. They re-signed Capps and Pavano, didn't they?
    1. Jim Crikket's Avatar
      Jim Crikket -
      I would certainly try to get an option, but I wouldn't need it to make a deal. Certainly, he would have to pass a physical and do some throwing for the Twins to observe before you make an offer, but I think getting him for a Lewis-type deal would be pretty team-friendly.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      We can offer, but why would he sign?

      The only way I think he will return to the Twins next year is by picking up the option.
    1. Lesser Dali's Avatar
      Lesser Dali -
      Scott Baker can be had for a reasonable price. Whether we retain him or not, he will not make much of a difference. Baker is not part of the chemistry make-up in the medicine that is needed to cure the Twins Organization's disease. At best he is temporary pain killer. The worst case scenario is that we sign him and he does not pitch next year.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      whatever base you want to give a pitcher with incentives, Id NEVER be hesitant to offer up an overly enticing package for the incentives.
      If Baker comes back next yr & gives ya 33 starts & 215 IP, Id have no problem with the overall package being 9/10/11m.
      If the go crazy & also resign Pavano (they will), Id do the same with him.....pay him ridiculous money ONLY IF he reaches the incentives.
    1. Lesser Dali's Avatar
      Lesser Dali -
      Quote Originally Posted by greengoblinrulz View Post
      33 starts & 215 IP
      With all due respect, the chances of Baker starting 33 games with 215 Inning Pitched next year are the same as Joe Mauer Batting .390 with 48 HR's.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      You absolutely try to sign Baker on a 1 yr guaranteed contract (5Mish) if and only if you get that 1 (or even better 2) reasonable option years (8-10M). TJ is a very successful surgery and the majority of pitchers are successful afterwards. If it doesn't work out then you don't have long term dollars committed. If it does work then you've locked up a solid #3 for 3 years at a pretty cheap price. it's pretty difficult to add pitchers at Baker's level w/o committing 50-80M to them.
    1. spycake's Avatar
      spycake -
      One thing that needs to be mentioned is that Baker has been tossing the ball around for a few weeks now and reportedly said that he feels "good" and "strong"
      Has any pitcher after Tommy John surgery said their arm feels like garbage? I guess it's good that he's throwing at all, but the rest of it seems pretty meaningless.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      The Twins starting pitching staff for next season is full of questions. There are doubts for every pitcher. Even Diamond, whom many see as locking down a spot next season, has significant red flags. A rotation with this many question marks is not going to contend for a division title. In my opinion there are two ways the Twins can handle this.

      First, the Twins could opt to embrace chaos by signing several pitchers to low priced deals or MiLB FA contracts or rule 5 draftees. They could then patch a rotation together by rotating pitchers in and out of the lineup based on with the hot hand. In this scenario many pitchers would need to be obtained to ensure a reasonable likelihood of success. In this scenario Baker seems like a great signing. He has the potential to be a good pitcher and if he flames out or never pitches you have plenty of available depth to replace him with.

      Second, the Twins could sign two or more free agent pitchers that are likely in and of themselves to bring a consistently high level of pitching to the staff. These pitchers would then anchor the top of the rotation while one or two spots are left for several pitchers to compete for. One of the last spots in the rotation would be another good place for Baker. His success would be helpful but if he failed you still have others to replace him.

      I would not be in favor of signing Baker with the intention of handing him a rotation spot. There are too many questions in Baker's ability next season to reserve a spot in his name.

      On a separate note. I don't understand peoples fascination with incentive laden deals. An incentive laden deal for Baker would not free up any more money the Twins could then use to sign other players. The team isn't going to think, "Oh he has a $2m base salary so that is all I need to budget for him." No, they're going to come up with a figure they think he is likely to make and budget that instead. So, just picking numbers out of the air here, in the end if he signs for $5m or an incentive deal with a base of $2m it doesn't matter. The Twins are going to budget $5m either way.
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