Scott Baker Rumors

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.

AL Central Notes: Baker, Twins, Abreu

With Rangers right-hander Scott Baker‘s May 1 opt-out date fast approaching, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo hears that both the Indians and White Sox could have some interest in the former Twins and Cubs right-hander (Twitter link). Baker’s career has stalled since 2012 Tommy John surgery, and Cotillo reported yesterday that he’d only opt out if he were to receive a big league opportunity elsewhere. Baker’s strong performance in Triple-A — a 2.81 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in his first 32 innings — could be enticing to teams with rotation issues. Elsewhere in the AL Central…

  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN has a couple of draft-related items for Twins fans (Twitter links), as he reports that Minnesota “loves” Texas prep right-hander Tyler Kolek, though the team is fairly certain he’ll be taken prior to their No. 5 overall selection (MLB.com has Kolek ranked third among draft prospects, while ESPN’s Keith Law ranked him second last month). Also, Wolfson reports that the Twins and Blue Jays are both interested in Minnesota prep left-hander/first baseman Sam Hentges.
  • Wolfson’s colleague Phil Mackey takes on the MLB All-Star nomination system, blasting it for its failure to keep up with technology. Mackey uses Chris Colabello, who is not on the ballot, as a prime example of the system’s failures. He asks why MLB can’t adjust on the fly after projected starters are submitted early in Spring Training, concluding: Presumably because they already printed out millions of hanging-chad paper ballots to be distributed throughout ballparks in an era where two out of every three adults owns a smartphone in this country.”

AL West Notes: Arencibia, Baker, Astros, Johnson

MLBTR is pleased to report that the missing portion of our archives that was lost when switching to WordPress following our DDoS attack has been restored. Previously, posts from mid-March through mid-April weren’t viewable, but everything is up to speed now. So, if you missed the details on Joel Hanrahan‘s audition for 20 teams, Sean Doolittle‘s contract extension, or George Springer‘s promotion to the Majors, all of that info is once again available. Speaking of Doolittle and Springer, here are some notes pertaining to their division…

  • Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders how much longer the Rangers can carry J.P. Arencibia on their roster. The 28-year-old is hitting jus .094/.171/.156 without a homer this season, leading Grant to believe that Texas could be talking with the Padres about one of their catchers. San Diego is reportedly in active trade talks regarding Nick Hundley.
  • Rangers right-hander Scott Baker is pitching well in Triple-A (2.81 ERA in 32 innings) and has received interest from several other teams as his May 1 opt-out date approaches, reports MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). Baker would only opt out of his current deal if it led to a Major League opportunity with another club, he adds. Baker’s former club, the Twins, isn’t interested in a reunion, according to reports from this past weekend.
  • The Houston Chronicle’s David Barron reports that United States Bankruptcy Judge Mavin Isgur will rule within two weeks whether he has subject matter jurisdiction to hear Astros owner Jim Crane’s lawsuit against Comcast, NBC Universal and former owner Drayton McLane. Comcast took the case federal last November because of its ties to CSN Houston’s own bankruptcy case, though Crane would like it to remain a matter for the state courts.
  • Athletics righty Jim Johnson pitched poorly enough to open the season that he lost his role as closer, but scouts expressed to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle this weekend that Johnson looks much better than he did early in the season. One scout on Sunday told Slusser that Johnson’s sinker is as good as anyone in the game right now. With Doolittle and Gregerson failing to run with the closer’s role, Johnson could find himself back in the ninth. Fantasy baseball players can, of course, keep up with Johnson’s status and other closer-related news by following MLBTR’s @closernews on Twitter.


AL Notes: Cano, Tigers, A’s, Baker

Robinson Cano will be making his first trip to the Bronx since signing his ten-year, $240MM contract when the Mariners open a series against the Yankees on Tuesday. Cano explained the differences between Seattle and New York to Newsday’s Anthony Rieber. “Here it’s more relaxed. It’s not as intense as New York,” Cano said. “In New York, when the game is over, everyone is looking at what’s wrong. Here we don’t have that.” Cano is hopeful there won’t be many Bronx cheers from the Yankee faithful upon his return. “They understand that this is a business and I don’t have anything against the fans, the team, anybody. I can tell you I’m excited to go back and be able to see guys that I played with for a long time. Be able to see [Derek] Jeter play in his last year. Just looking forward to going back.” 

In other news and notes from the American League:

  • The Tigers may start to see additional dividends from the Doug Fister trade, reports Chris Iott of mlive.com. Left-hander Robbie Ray, acquired from the Nationals in that December deal, is a leading candidate to replace the injured Anibal Sanchez in the rotation. Ray has posted a 1.93 ERA, 6.2 K/9, and 1.9 BB/9 in his four starts for Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers have yet to decide who will fill in for Sanchez; but, if Ray is their choice, they will need to create roster space since the 22-year-old isn’t on the 40-man roster.  
  • The A’s bullpen has had mixed result this season and the coaching staff is trying to navigate the fine line between a closer-by-committee and the comfort provided by having well-defined roles, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser.
  • The Twins were called this weekend about the prospects of signing right-hander Scott Baker, but have no interest, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com. Baker is currently pitching for the Rangers‘ Triple-A affiliate (2.77 ERA, 7.3 K/9, and 2.1 BB/9 in 26 innings covering four starts), but has a May 1st opt-out date.

Rangers To Sign Scott Baker

The Rangers have reached agreement with pitcher Scott Baker, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). It is a minor-league deal, Heyman tweets. Baker's new deal will be worth up to $1MM at the big-league level and contains a May 1 opt-out date, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. if A deal was rumored to be close yesterday evening. Baker is represented by Octagon.

The Rangers recently set their rotation (via Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram on Twitter) with Tanner Scheppers, Martin Perez, Robbie Ross, Joe Saunders and Nick Martinez), but Baker should add depth to a rotation that has struggled with injuries. Derek Holland will miss at least a chunk of the season, Yu Darvish is unable to make his Opening Day start, and Matt Harrison is out as well. Baker made three starts with the Cubs last season after missing the entire 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery. He was previously a longtime member of the Twins rotation.

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Rangers Near Deal With Scott Baker

The Rangers are close to a deal with starting pitcher Scott Baker, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish initially reported (via Twitter) that the two sides were "making progress" on a deal. Baker is represented by Octagon.

Baker requested, and received, his release from the Mariners Monday. He made three starts with the Cubs in 2013 as he recovered from elbow issues that had kept him out of the Majors since 2011. The Rangers are trying to fill an increasingly injury-plagued rotation that currently includes Martin Perez, Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Ross and Joe Saunders. Yu Darvish, who's dealing with a neck injury, will not start Opening Day, and the team has recently ruled out Colby Lewis as a rotation candidate.


West Notes: Dodgers, Baker, Rangers, Mariners

The Dodgers have the highest projected payroll in baseball at $235MM, which means that, for the first time in 15 years, the Yankees do not have baseball's highest payroll, the Associated Press reports. Also, the Dodgers' Zack Greinke will top the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez for baseball's highest-paid player. Greinke will make $24MM in the second year of his contract, and MLB's accounting also includes a prorated portion of his signing bonus. Greinke would have counted as the highest-paid player in the game even if Rodriguez hadn't been suspended for the season. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • Pitcher Scott Baker is "making progress" on a deal with the injury-ravaged Rangers, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. The Mariners released Baker yesterday. Baker, 32, has played sparingly in the Majors since 2011, due to elbow troubles.
  • The Mariners want to find a right-handed hitter, and they might not trade Nick Franklin unless they find one, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. A righty would help the Mariners balance a lefty-heavy lineup that includes Robinson Cano, Logan Morrison, Brad Miller, Kyle Seager, Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders.
  • Veteran infielder John McDonald has made the Angels roster, and he's thinking about what could be his last season in the big leagues, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "This could be my last year," McDonald says. "I'm not going to have a press conference to announce it. … You never know what can happen. I don't like putting a timetable on anything. I'm 39. I'm not foolish. There is only so long you can play." McDonald has never played more than 123 games in a season but, mostly thanks to his defense, he's managed to eke out a 15-year career with the Indians, Tigers, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Indians, Phillies, Red Sox and now the Angels. 

AL Central Notes: Royals, Scherzer, Quintana, Twins, Baker

One hidden key to the Royals' emergence has been the club's dedication to Latin American scouting, signing, and player development under GM Dayton Moore (and special assistant Rene Francisco), writes Rany Jazayerli of RanyontheRoyals.com. Jazayerli breaks down the team's long history of virtually no significant spending on Latin American players, and how increased investments — especially on lower-priced players like Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura, Miguel Almonte, and Jorge Bonifacio (total commitment: $253K) — have been critical to building the team's overall talent base. Here's more from the American League Central:

  • Max Scherzer requested an eight-year deal in his negotiations with the Tigers, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Tigers' reported offer was for six years and $144MM. If the sides were in agreement on the $24MM AAV, that would hypothetically put Scherzer's demands on total gaurantee at $192MM. Scherzer has injury protection through an insurance policy, Bowden adds, which perhaps has increased his willingness to wait for a larger deal on the open market.
  • Meanwhile, the White Sox were able to secure seven years of control rights over their own prized starter, Jose Quintana, for a total guarantee that maybe as low as $21MM (if he does not qualify for Super Two status). Of course, unlike Scherzer, Quintana has just 1.133 years of service and did not win the AL Cy Young last year. Nevertheless, the deal looks like a smart investment for a Chicago club that has purchased prime years of several players at seemingly reasonable rates. As Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports, GM Rick Hahn sees the value in early extensions, which "frees us up to allocate our resources to other needs." Hahn explained: "You've seen the magnitude of what some of these deals have gotten to in free agency. It makes sense to try to get out in front of that sometimes, to try to get the price points locked in before the market continues to grow … ."
  • Twins assistant GM Rob Antony had several updates today, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Infielder Jason Bartlett has agreed to push back his March 25 opt-out to the March 30 Opening Day roster deadline, which gives both sides more time to assess their options. Meanwhile, the club is still in discussions on a new deal with reliever Matt Guerrier, who was released because the club did not want to pay the Article XX(B) free agent signee a $100K retention bonus to stash him in the minors.
  • Though the Twins have had some exploratory discussions about an extension with second baseman Brian Dozier, the 26-year-old tells Berardino that a deal is probably not happening at this point. That is not surprising, as Dozier has just 1.100 on his service clock and still has some questions to answer as a player. But he indicated that there is a positive vibe between the two sides and a hope that talks could pick up in the future. "We had some talks or whatever," he said. "Obviously nothing took place but it was a bunch of good postive feedback on both ends.It's very unlikely anything will be coming soon or during the season or anything. We'll let another year play out and see where it goes. That was just a thing to see where everybody was. I think [the Twins] would be in the near future open to it and we definitely are."
  • The Indians were one of the clubs vying for Scott Baker's services before the offseason, and just released Aaron Harang. Nevertheless, Cleveland will not pursue the starter at this point, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Baker was released today by the Mariners after deciding he would rather test the market than accept an assignment to Triple-A.

Mariners Release Scott Baker

The Mariners have released Scott Baker after the starter upon his request, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter). The veteran righty was an Article XX(B) free agent.

Baker, 32, has not seen substantial MLB action since 2011, when he threw 134 2/3 innings of 3.14 ERA ball for the Twins. He joins a growing list of available starters who will be looking for new homes before the start of the season. It would appear that the Mariners will choose two of Randy Wolf, Roenis Elias, and Blake Beavan to round out the rotation to start the year. 


Quick Hits: Prospects, Cruz, Yoon, Madson, Baker

MLB.com's Jim Callis has an interesting breakdown of the dollars committed to the game's top prospects. Over $228MM has already been committed by teams to the prospects listed among MLB.com's top 100. Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Keith Law has released his own prospect rankings (Insider links), naming the Astros' system as the game's best and tabbing Byron Buxton of the Twins as the best overall prospect. In his own top 101 prospects list, Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus agrees with Buxton as the top choice, which certainly appears to be the consensus. And Baseball America has completed its listing of the ten best prospects by team.

Here are some more links from around the game:

  • The Twins are keeping tabs on free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, but are a long shot to land him. Minnesota is probably only interested if Cruz drops his price fairly significantly, Wolfson adds, guessing that the club would probably only be involved at two years with an average annual value at or below the $10MM mark.
  • Likewise, the Twins are waiting for the price to fall on South Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon, Wolfson reports (Twitter links). When Wolfson floated the number of two years and $10MM total to his source, he was told that cost was likely too steep for Minnesota.
  • Free agent reliever Ryan Madson plans to hold a full public workout on February 7th, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The 33-year-old threw yesterday for an unknown club that is reportedly a leading candidate to land him, Crasnick adds. 
  • Starter Scott Baker chose the Mariners over offers from the IndiansRangers, and Royals, reports Wolfson (via Twitter). The Twins never had interest in a reunion, Wolfson adds.
  • Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers were discussing a deal in the range of $200MM to $205MM over the summer, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. By waiting until he wrapped up a Cy Young campaign, Kershaw was able to secure a deal with a $215MM guarantee.