Scott Baker Rumors

Yankees To Sign Scott Baker To Minor League Deal

4:15pm: Baker will earn at a $1.5MM rate if he makes the big league roster, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

12:15pm: The Yankees have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with longtime Twins right-hander Scott Baker, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter).

Baker was a mainstay in the Twins’ rotation during their run at the top of the division, but he underwent Tommy John surgery in Spring Training of 2012 and has yet to re-establish himself as a reliable rotation cog in the Major Leagues. Baker has spent the past two seasons in the Cubs and Rangers organizations, working to a combined 5.17 ERA in 95 2/3 innings of work.

Prior to those struggles and his surgery, however, Baker was a solid, if unspectacular mid-rotation arm for Minnesota. He averaged 181 innings of 4.11 ERA ball (103 ERA+) from 2008-10 with the Twins before seemingly taking a significant step forward in a 2011 season that was cut short by injury. Baker notched just 134 2/3 innings that year but had turned in a pristine 3.14 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 prior to being shut down. Metrics such as his 3.45 FIP and 3.43 SIERA reflected genuine improvement as well.

Now with the Yankees, the former second-round pick will hope to earn a rotation spot amid a sea of other injury question marks. Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Ivan Nova ultimately comprise New York’s ideal rotation, but Nova won’t be ready to start the season after having his own Tommy John last year. Meanwhile, Sabathia is coming off knee surgery, uncertainty surrounds Tanaka’s UCL and Pineda’s history of shoulder problems is a persistent concern. Chris Capuano was signed to a big league deal this winter, so he should open the year in the rotation, but given the injury troubles surrounding the entire group of rotation options, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Baker get a crack, should his own health issues permit.


Central Notes: Stauffer, Brewers, Indians, Baker, Viciedo

Though he receives only a $2.2MM guarantee, recently-signed Twins righty Tim Stauffer can earn significantly more through incentives, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Stauffer can max out his deal at a total of $3.95MM ($1.75MM bonus) if he makes 55 appearances in the coming season. He can earn $250K bonuses upon his 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, and 27th appearances, land $100K for the 45th time he takes the hill, and nab another $250K at number fifty-five.

Here’s more from the central divisions:

  • The Brewers and Indians are among the teams on the market for late-inning relief help, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Neither team intends to “spend big,” however, Rosenthal adds. Several established pen arms remain available through free agency.
  • We heard yesterday that righty Scott Baker had interest from five clubs that were offering minor league deals. The Reds are one of the teams pursuing the veteran, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, whereas the Twins are not involved.
  • The White Sox could still cut Dayan Viciedo loose this spring after agreeing to avoid arbitration, writes SB Nation’s Jim Margalus, but the club would still be on the hook for a portion of his $4.4MM salary. Margalus breaks down recent instances of such scenarios, but explains that the actual cost to teams (as well as the presence or results of any grievance proceedings) remains largely unknown publicly. At this point, a spot as a bench bat seems the likeliest outcome, though a trade is still possible.

Pitching Notes: Shields, Cards, Ogando, Albers, Baker, Coke, Comebacks

As things stand, the Nationals have the game’s best rotation while the Royals have the top pen, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines (Insider links). Of course, the offseason is not yet over. Here are the latest notes on the pitching market:

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart confirmed that the team has active interest in starter James Shields, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Stewart adds that he likes the idea of  Shields serving as a mentor while fronting the team’s rotation. Fellow free agent Max Scherzer, however, is too spendy for Arizona.
  • When the Cardinals pursued lefty Jon Lester, the team indicated it was willing to spend only to the $120MM range, Olney tweets. That could give an idea of what kind of payroll space the club feels willing to occupy, says Olney. St. Louis was recently linked to a trio of top starting pitchers, each of whom would represent quite a different investment.
  • Alexi Ogando apparently produced solid results in his recent workout, with Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweeting that scouts were impressed. The Red Sox and Dodgers are “aggressive” on Ogando, Gammons adds. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe had tweeted that Boston was in attendance.
  • Righty Matt Albers is throwing in preparation for a showcase early next month, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links). The shoulder issues that shut him down last year did not involve any structural damage, says Morosi.
  • Agent Bobby Witt says that client Scott Baker, another free agent righty, prefers to join a team that will allow him to enter camp as a starter, Morosi reports (Twitter links). Baker has five minor league offers in hand but is hoping to receive a major league contract.
  • Interest in lefty Phil Coke is “amping up,” Chris Iott of MLive.com tweets. Nevertheless, a signing does not appear to be imminent, per the report.
  • The Twins are planning to watch lefty Johan Santana throw today after already seeing him on the mound last week, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. Santana is not the only prominent hurler eyeing a comeback, it seems. Former closer Carlos Marmol threw in the Dominican earlier this winter and is now pitching in Venezuela, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. And one-time relief ace Daniel Bard, whose career derailed with a failed conversion back to the rotation, is also seeking a return, Cafardo reports. The 29-year-old says he is finally healthy and expects to sign a deal this week.


Rangers Notes: Rosario, Masterson, Floyd

The Rangers have been discussing trades with the Braves, Mets, Diamondbacks and Nationals at the Winter Meetings, though they’re reportedly no longer talking to the Dodgers about Matt Kemp.  Here’s some more out of Arlington…

  • The Rangers and Rockies have continued to discuss catcher Wilin Rosario, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.  Rosario would help address Texas’ need for both a right-handed bat and a catcher.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels said that offers have been extended to free agent pitchers but sources tell Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Justin Masterson “isn’t in [the] picture.”
  • Talks with Gavin Floyd‘s agent have been put on hold for now, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Floyd posted strong numbers (2.65 ERA, 3.46 K/BB) over nine starts with the Braves in 2014 before having his season ended by a broken bone in his throwing elbow.
  • Also from Grant, the Rangers are interested in bringing Scott Baker back on a minor league contract, though the righty is hoping to land a Major League deal.  After missing almost all of the 2012-13 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, Baker posted a 5.47 ERA over 80 2/3 IP with Texas last season.
  • The Rangers will protect Russell Wilson from the Rule 5 Draft on their Triple-A roster, which Grant explains is a procedural move that would force a claiming team to keep Wilson on its Major League roster all season.  Texas is essentially keeping Wilson in the fold as a “Spring Training motivational speaker” since he’s obviously not leaving the NFL any time soon.

Rangers Designate Justin Germano For Assignment

The Rangers have designated right-hander Justin Germano for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Scott Baker, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The team will also place lefty Martin Perez on the 15-day DL with left elbow inflammation and recall right-hander Nick Tepesch from Triple-A Round Rock.

Germano appeared in just two games for the Rangers, yielding seven runs in 5 1/3 innings of work. The veteran swingman has seen time in the Major Leagues in each of the past five seasons and owns a career 5.40 ERA in 330 innings pitched. He signed a minor league deal with the club this offseason.

For Baker, this is the second time he’s had his contract selected by the team. General manager Jon Daniels and his staff were likely thrilled that they were able to sneak Baker through outright waivers, as Daniels expressed considerable regret over the circumstances that led to Baker’s original DFA. The longtime Twin pitched well in his lone Rangers appearance, allowing two runs in 5 1/3 innings of long relief, and he’s pitched very well in 38 Triple-A frames. Baker is trying to reestablish himself after 2012 Tommy John surgery and multiple setbacks in his recovery from that procedure last year.


Rangers Outright Scott Baker

Right-hander Scott Baker has cleared waivers and has accepted his outright assignment to Triple-A, tweets Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthwest.com. Baker was designated for assignment Thursday.

Baker made his lone appearance for Texas on Wednesday allowing two earned runs during 5 1/3 innings of relief. Rangers GM Jon Daniels said Baker was designated because he needed several days of rest after his lengthy outing and the club couldn’t afford that luxury since their bullpen is taxed. Daniels added he would entertain trade offers; but, apparently, there wasn’t much of a market.

Baker has been solid at Triple-A this season. In six starts covering 38 innings, the 32-year-old has posted a 3.32 ERA, 7.1 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9. 


AL Notes: Ramirez, Baker, Twins, Hoffman

MLB is nearing agreement on a plan to send an All-Star squad off to Japan this November for a series against the Japanese national team, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Of course, the league has a rich history of sending its best on tour to one of the world’s great ballplaying nations.

Here are some notes from around the American League:

  • Manny Ramirez is still looking for another opportunity, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While recent contact with the Orioles failed to materialize into an offer, a scout who has seen Ramirez work out recently said that the 42-year-old slugger looks fit and was impressive with the bat. Agent Alex Esteban tells Heyman that most of the interest has come from American League teams, though several NL clubs have checked in as well. MLBTR’s Zach Links reported back in February that Ramirez had elected to join Miami Sports Management.
  • The Rangers regretted the need to designate Scott Baker for assignment after a brief call-up, reports MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. With Baker needing several days of rest after throwing 5 1/3 innings of relief in his only appearance, and the bullpen looking overworked, GM Jon Daniels said the move was an unfortunate necessity. “He did everything we asked,” said Daniels. “Unfortunately we are at a spot where the bullpen is taxed because our starters are not getting deep into games.” (Of course, the most recent Rangers starter — ace Yu Darvish — did manage to go deep in tonight’s game.) As for Baker’s fate, Daniels says that the club will “see if there is trade interest” but otherwise will place him on outright waivers.
  • With the fifth overall slot in the upcoming amateur draft, the Twins could be eyeing either high school shortstop Nick Gordon or college righty Aaron Nola, ESPN.com’s Keith Law wrote in a chat yesterday. Law also notes that the Blue Jays could be a player for injured righty Jeff Hoffman, who could also intrigue several other AL clubs (Law lists the AstrosRoyals, and Red Sox, while also citing the Nationals as a possibility).

Rangers Promote Sardinas, Odor; Designate Baker, Wilson

The Rangers will execute a series of roster moves, the club announced. Texas will designate righty Scott Baker and infielder Josh Wilson to help create roster space for the call-up of top prospects Luis Sardinas and Rougned Odor.

In the aggregate, the moves represent a fairly substantial re-working of the club’s roster as the injuries continue to mount. Also involved in today’s moves were infielder Donnie Murphy, who was placed on the DL, and righty Justin Germano, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A.

Baker, 32, made just one appearance for Texas, throwing 5 1/3 innings and allowing just two earned runs. The veteran had decided not to exercise his opt-out clause with the team, and was rewarded at the time with a call-up. The 33-year-old Wilson had taken 72 plate appearances with the team, putting up a .224/.257/.269 triple-slash.

Both Odor and Sardinas are 20-year-old middle infielders out of Venezuela — though the latter is actually nearly a year older — who have consistently been ranked among the team’s top prospects by evaluators. Baseball America put Odor at 42nd on its top 100 list, while predicting a 2015 arrival. Other observers, such as ESPN.com’s Keith Law (64th) and MLB.com (54th) roughly concurred with that placement. Sardinas, who already received a cup of coffee in 2014, landed at the 70th overall slot on MLB.com’s rankings, though he did not appear it the top 100 of either of the other two.

Before the season, BA called Odor the club’s top prospect. In that publication’s view, while he is somewhat undersized, Odor’s raw tools play up due to an outstanding swing and approach, strong baserunning instincts, and overall positive intangibles. While Odor is heralded mostly for his bat, Sardinas is a glove-first prospect. Speed, range, arm strength, and contact at the dish are the calling cards for the youngster.

The pair of middle infielders entered the year without any MLB service time. Were they to stick on the active roster from this point forward, both players would stand to pick up 143 days of service and position themselves as fairly sure bets to achieve Super Two status. (As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently noted with respect to the call-up of Marcus Stroman, the highest level of service required for Super Two status in recent years has been two years and 146 days. This year, it projects to land at just 2.128.) On the other hand, given their youth and the presumptive return of Jurickson Profar and Murphy, this call-up may not be permanent.


AL Notes: Angels, Tigers, Baker

The Angels, who have reportedly run into difficulties in their negotiations for a new deal to extend the team’s lease in Anaheim, are discussing potential alternative sites in two other California locations, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times: Tustin and, most recently, Irvine. A 2016 opt-out of the team’s current lease is looming in the near future.

  • In his podcast today (audio link), ESPN.com’s Buster Olney touched on several topics relating to the Tigers. Club GM Dave Dombrowski, joining for an interview, said that he is still looking internally first for bullpen solutions, calling it “a little early for clubs to be making trades at this time.”
  • Dombrowski also talked about Robbie Ray, the key piece acquired in the Doug Fister trade. He indicated that Detroit’s evaluators seemingly placed a higher value on Ray than did other teams around the league, saying that Ray “projects to be at least a number-three starter.” Though the club does not expect him to reach that level (let alone his potential ceiling) during his first call-up, Dombrowski said that Ray has thrown well enough at Triple-A to earn a chance to fill in at the big league level.
  • Discussing the Tigers’ reported $144MM extension offer that Max Scherzer declined with fellow ESPN analyst Keith Law, Olney noted that many players and agents he has spoken with felt they would have taken the deal. But the calculating Scherzer — who, in Olney’s opinion, may be the “pitcher’s version of Joey Votto” in terms of his incorporation of statistical analysis into his game — apparently determined that he will hold a good enough hand to warrant the risk of waiting for free agency.
  • Starter Scott Baker has not elected his opt-out clause with the Rangers, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com, after apparently not finding a major league opportunity elsewhere. If he finds such a chance, however, Baker will be able to opt out at that time, Cotillo adds.

AL Notes: Abreu, Carbonell, Astros, Baker

2014 looked like a rebuilding year for the White Sox, but with Jose Abreu bursting onto the scene to become a star power bat, could the Pale Hose contend this season?  GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes and MLB.com’s Scott Merkin) that “it really is a balancing act.  You don’t want to pass on a chance to win. They are sacred. At the same time, this is a long-term proposition we are trying to build here, sustain over an extended period, and we don’t want to hamper our ability to do that.”  It’s still too early in the season to make “short-sighted” moves, Hahn said, yet if the Sox are in the race in a couple of months, the team will re-evaluate its goals for the season.

Here’s some more from around the junior circuit…

  • White Sox executive VP Kenny Williams talked to Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times about his experience scouting Abreu and then his discussions with owner Jerry Reinsdorf about raising the club’s bid for the heavily-courted slugger.  It was Reinsdorf, Williams said, who actually endorsed paying more for Abreu.  The extra push seems to have paid off, judging by Abreu’s huge April performance.
  • The Yankees are interested in Cuban outfielder Daniel Carbonell, according to media outlet Diario de Cuba (hat tip to Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues).  The Yankees scouted Carbonell during a February workout.  The switch-hitting 23-year-old is a free agent and can be signed for any price as long as he signs before July 2.
  • Astros amateur scouting director Mike Elias discusses his team’s scouting process, current top prospects and the upcoming 2014 amateur draft with Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith.
  • It looks like Scott Baker will indeed stay with the Rangers‘ Triple-A affiliate, sources tells Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter link).  Cotillo previously reported that Baker would only use his May 1 opt-out clause if he could find a Major League deal with another team, and the White Sox and Indians had some interest in Baker’s services.