The Twins declined their $9.25MM option on Scott Baker earlier today, but the right-hander tells Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the two sides have made progress on a new contract:
"We’re talking, and obviously I think there’s a mutual feeling that I want to be back, and they want me back," Baker said. "But it has to make sense for both parties, and we’re just not there yet. There’s a lot to consider. I’ll just say, we’re not close, but we’re definitely closer than when it started."
Baker also told Christensen that he isn't discouraged by the fact that the team elected not to exercise his option. The 31-year-old is recovering from Tommy John surgery that he underwent this past spring.
A second-round selection of the Twins in 2003, Baker has spent his whole career in Minnesota. In that time, he's pitched to a 4.15 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 958 innings. He broke out in 2011 with a 3.14 ERA and upped his strikeouts to a strong 8.2 per nine innings.
In my view, an incentive-laden one-year deal with a lower base salary and perhaps a vesting option would seem to make sense for both sides. If Baker decides to talk with other teams, this will be his first time exploring the free agent market. Back in March 2009, Baker and the Twins agreed to a four-year extension that guaranteed the Oklahoma State University product $15.25MM.