Scott Baker Rumors

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.

Mariners To Sign Scott Baker

12:34pm: Baker has already passed his physical, and the deal will be announced later today, tweets Greg Johns of MLB.com.

12:17pm: The Mariners have agreed to terms with right-hander Scott Baker on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Baker, who is represented by Octagon, will earn $1MM if he makes the team and can earn up to $3.25MM more via incentives, according to Cotillo (Twitter links).

The 32-year-old Baker underwent Tommy John surgery prior to the 2012 season — his walk year with the Twins. He inked a one-year, $5.5MM contract with the Cubs last offseason, but persistent setbacks in his recovery limited him to three starts late in the season.

Baker's last significant big league action came in 2011, and it was also the best work of his career. In 134 innings for the Twins that season, the former second-round pick posted a 3.14 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. Strong command and K/BB numbers have been typical of Baker throughout his career, as evidenced by his lifetime 3.4 K:BB ratio. Baker's skill-set seems to be fitting of Safeco Field; the extreme fly-ball pitcher has just a 34 percent ground-ball rate for his career.

Should Baker make the rotation out of Spring Training, he'll slot in behind aces Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Top prospect Taijuan Walker and right-hander Erasmo Ramirez are also candidates for the rotation, and the Mariners have been said to be on the lookout for a veteran starter to add to the mix as well (presumably, Baker is not that arm).


Mariners Focusing On Complementary Players

After an offseason highlighted by the signing of Robinson Cano, the Mariners may be done adding high-priced talent, MLB.com's Greg Johns reports. GM Jack Zduriencik is looking for another starting pitcher, but probably won't want to pay the prices necessary to sign Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.

"I don't think we're going to jump in and invest where some of these dollars are going," Zduriencik says. "It just doesn't make sense when you take a 30-, 31-, 32-year old pitcher that wants five or six years and there is some history there of injury or inconsistencies."

Zduriencik said those risks were the reason the Mariners didn't strongly pursue Masahiro Tanaka (who is younger, but would have required a long commitment). He also suggests that it would have been difficult to outbid the Yankees. "We've made two major investments here in the last two years with Felix [Hernandez] and now Robinson," Zduriencik says. "To do that again would have been real challenging. And in the end, the numbers could have gone up. If we made that offer, who knows what the heck the Yankees would have done after that?"

Johns notes that the Mariners are "in the running" for starter Scott Baker, who missed all of 2012 and most of 2013 due to injury. Zduriencik also says the Mariners have had many talks with Nelson Cruz's representation, but the length and dollar value of the contract and the threat of losing a draft pick are all part of the Mariners' considerations.