Scott Baker Rumors
For the fourth straight year, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony sat down with Jesse Lund of SB Nation's Twinkie Town to discuss the state of affairs with his team. Antony and Lund discussed the Twins' offseason at length, ranging from the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere to the Twins' pursuit of starting pitching. Here's a look at some of the highlights, but bear in mind that entire piece is well worth your time...
- The Twins never intended to trade both Revere and Span, but the Phillies' offer of Trevor May and Vance Worley was too strong not to pull the trigger. Antony identifies May as someone who could get a September call-up in 2013 if he enjoys a strong season.
- The Twins had conversations with both Scott Baker and Francisco Liriano, but were unable to agree to terms with either one. In particular, the Twins sought a club option for Baker, who wanted strictly a one-year deal. Antony said they didn't want 2013 to "be a donation" to Baker in the event that he wasn't healthy and effective for most of the season. That decision looks wise, with Baker on the 60-day disabled list for the Cubs.
- Mike Pelfrey identified the Twins as a team he wanted to pitch for and was aggressive in working out a deal, according to Antony. The Twins did quite a bit of homework on Pelfrey's recovery from Tommy John surgery in order to ascertain that the right-hander would indeed be ready for Opening Day, as he promised.
- The Twins made several "competitive offers" to free agent starting pitchers, in some cases making better offers than the ones those pitchers ultimately took. The Twins had conversations with nearly every free agent starting pitcher and spoke with around 15 agents for pitchers at the Winter Meetings in December.
- Following the Span trade, most teams didn't believe that the team would also trade Revere. Antony says four teams were in the mix for Revere, but the Phillies were the most aggressive and ultimately landed him with the aforementioned offer.
- The Twins were willing to do a one-for-one swap of Span and Alex Meyer because they believe Meyer is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation candidate who can be a "dominant" strikeout pitcher.
- The decision to bring Aaron Hicks north as the team's Opening Day center fielder was a result of Hicks' strong play in Spring Training and his poise off the field. The Twins' front office was never overly concerned with delaying Hicks' free agency by a season: "If he's that good of a player we're going to do what we can to sign him long term and none of that's going to matter."
- Antony, GM Terry Ryan and the rest of the front office prefer to gradually expose their top prospects to the Major Leagues so as not to field a team of all rookies. Additionally, that line of thinking prevents mass arbitration and free agency issues: "If you can bring a couple guys, a couple rookies in each year, it helps infuse that and it helps to spread it out so that not everybody becomes arbitration eligible at the same time or free agents at the same time, all that stuff."
- The Twins "admire" the Royals' bullpen of power arms and would like to build a similar bullpen. The team prioritized power arms in the 2012 Draft, selecting a number of hard-throwing college relievers.
- Antony offered a definitive "No," when asked if the team had interest in Aaron Harang prior to his trade to the Mariners. The Twins feel they have a number of similar arms in the organization already.
- There's been no contact between the Twins and Jim Thome for "a couple of months," and the two were never on the same page. Minnesota had interest in Thome, but they were far apart in discussions.
- "It would be great if he could be a Twin for life," Antony said of Justin Morneau. "He's a guy who's meant a lot for this organization and we'd love it if he were to play his entire career here, but you just don't know how things are going to work out in the end."
- Antony feels that too much has been made of the decision not to extend Ron Gardenhire prior to this season. Many have speculated that Gardenhire is on the hot seat following a pair of 90-loss seasons, but Antony said it was intended to be an organization-wide message that they're looking to get better from top to bottom. He adds that he hopes Gardenhire is the Twins' manager for years to come, and that in three years people are surprised there was even a debate.
The Cubs have agreed to terms with Scott Baker on a one-year contract, the team announced. The deal includes a $5.5MM base salary with $1.5MM in incentives, reports Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune and MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter links). The right-hander is represented by Octagon, as our Agency Database shows.
Baker, 31, did not pitch at all in 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, prompting the Twins to decline his $9.25MM option after the season. The two sides had been discussing a new contract before the right-hander hooked on with the Cubbies. Chicago is reportedly looking to add pitching on short-term deals this winter, and this contract accomplishes that.
Baker has spent his entire career with Minnesota, pitching to a 4.15 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in nearly 1,000 career innings. He posted a career-low 3.14 ERA with a career-high 8.3 K/9 in 134 2/3 innings last season while missing time with elbow problems. Although he has cracked the 200-inning plateau just once in his career, Baker has thrown at least 170 innings three times in the last five years.
Tim Dierkes ranked Baker 46th on his Top 50 Free Agents List, predicting he would re-sign with the Twins. Check out our Free Agent Prediction Contest Leaderboard to see where you rank among MLBTR's readers.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.
Here's the latest on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN...
- So far, the Twins have reached out to free agents Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Brett Myers. They're interested in Myers as a starter. They've also reached out to Brandon Webb even though he hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2009.
- The club continues to have regular conversations with Alan Nero, who represents right-hander Scott Baker. The two sides are working on a new contract after Baker's $9.25MM option was declined.
- The Twins have not shown any interest in Jon Garland and were not present when the right-hander threw for teams during an audition back in September.
- Talks with reliever Jared Burton about a contract extension are underway. Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM salary for the right-hander next season, after which he'll become a free agent.
- The Twins have inquired about reliever Randy Messenger, though the Hanshin Tigers in Japan will not allow the right-hander out of his contract.
- The team has not contacted Bill Bray after he hit free agency. Special assistant Wayne Krivsky acquired the left-hander during his tenure as Reds GM.
The Blue Jays are casting a wide net in their search for pitching, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. They have already shown interest in Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, and Ryan Dempster, among others.
Toronto is also one of several clubs to inquire about Scott Baker, joining the Red Sox, Cubs, and Rangers. The Twins recently declined the right-hander's option but hope to sign him to a new deal. The Blue Jays have made no secret of their goal to add pitching this offseason, either through trades or free agency. Free agents can begin signing with new teams tomorrow morning.
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.
Scott Baker will hit free agency following a season spent recovering from Tommy John surgery. As expected, the Twins declined their $9.25MM option for the right-hander, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports.
Baker will be free to sign with any team starting Saturday morning. However, Twins GM Terry Ryan has said the Twins would like to re-sign the 31-year old. Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN reported last week that Baker remains a "high priority" for the Twins. Baker's agent has been in regular communication with the Twins about a deal, perhaps a one or two-year contract with incentives.
Congratulations to Miguel Cabrera, who was named the Sporting News MLB Player of the Year. Here are some more links from around MLB on an off day for Cabrera's Tigers and the NL Champion Giants...
- The Twins will decline Scott Baker's $9.25MM option for 2013, but he remains a "high priority" for the team, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN reports. Baker's agent has been speaking regularly with the Twins and the sides could agree to an incentive-laden one or two-year deal.
- The Twins haven't yet called to inquire about minor league free agent Aaron Laffey, according to Wolfson.
- Teams are standing by to see if the Angels make Torii Hunter a one-year qualifying offer, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (Twitter link). If the Angels make Hunter a qualifying offer and he declines, other teams will have to surrender a draft pick to sign the outfielder. Otherwise, he'll be coveted as a free agent. Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com suggested today that the Angels won't extend Hunter a qualifying offer (Twitter link).
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said he will probably think about a long-term contract for Clayton Kershaw this coming offseason, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports (on Twitter). The left-hander's under contract for 2013 and under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2014.
- The Nationals and Adam LaRoche have made “some progress” toward a new contract, the first baseman told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. There’s nothing definitive at this stage, but the sides have started to establish parameters for a possible new deal.
While last winter was an offseason of transition for the Cardinals, the club is now set to retain almost everyone after coming just one win away from reaching the World Series, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman are the club's only two free agents, but neither player is expected to return to St. Louis. Lohse seems bound for a significant payday with another club while Berkman is contemplating retirement. Here's more out of the Central divisions..
- Twins General Manager Terry Ryan confirmed that the club "would like to keep" right-hander Scott Baker, tweets Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. Baker, who is seven months removed from Tommy John surgery, said earlier this year that he would like to remain in Minnesota.
- Jane Lee of MLB.com expects to see the Athletics target veteran pitching this winter to support their young rotation. Billy Beane & Co. could help achieve that goal by re-signing Brandon McCarthy but they are also expected to comb the open market for one-year options.
- John Farrell and Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos were never a good fit, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. At today's introductory presser in Boston, Farrell indicated that he and the GM weren't able to communicate effectively during their two years together in Toronto.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports thinks that the Marlins' dysfunctional ownership could be a deterrent to managerial candidates.
Rookie outfielder Mike Trout hit his 30th home run in the opener of the Angels-Rangers doubleheader this afternoon to become the youngest player in MLB history to slug 30 homers and steal 30 bases and the first rookie with a season of 30 homers and 40 steals. Trout is also the first player in MLB history to record 30 home runs, 45 steals, and 125 runs scored in a single season (h/t ESPN, via Twitter). Trout swiped his 48th base in that game and is now just two stolen bases away from joining Barry Bonds and Eric Davis as the only 30/50 players in baseball history. Today's historic performance further fuels the AL MVP debate between Trout and Miguel Cabrera, a debate chronicled by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Elsewhere on the Junior Circuit:
- White Sox manager Robin Ventura had to clarify comments he made about his future yesterday, reports CSNChicago.com's Dan Hayes. Ventura said he was only making a joke when he said he just wanted to get through this season. "I plan on being here for two more years, yes,” Ventura said. “Unless they don’t want me to be here.”
- If the White Sox opt for the $4MM buyout of Jake Peavy's contract rather than exercise the $22MM 2013 option, the right-hander may act as his own agent, reports Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times. Barry Axelrod, Peavy's longtime agent, is no longer able to represent him because Axelrod will be taking a position in the Diamondbacks' front office. For his part, Peavy says he wants to remain with the White Sox, "I love Chicago and this team. I hope we'll be able to work something out."
- The Twins will have to work something out with pitcher Scott Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The club has a $9.25MM team option for 2013 and it seems highly unlikely they'd exercise that and make Baker the team's highest-paid pitcher coming off surgery, writes 1500ESPN.com Phil Mackey. GM Terry Ryan wouldn't say much about Baker's status other than, "If you think he's going to be able to contribute in 2013, the answer is yes (we do have interest)."
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has a feeling some of his coaching staff won't be back after the team's second consecutive 90-loss season, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Garretson. "I have all the faith that they can do the job, but some of these things aren't going to be left up to me, it's going to be left to ownership and [general manager] Terry [Ryan]," Gardenhire said. "If he thinks change is needed, he's going to talk to the owners and we'll go from there."
- Within the same piece, Bollinger and Garretson confirmed Gardenhire hadn't spoken to Joe Mauer about moving to third base. Gardenhire said he has considered playing Mauer some at third when asked about the possibility during a conference call with season-ticket holders on Thursday.
- The Blue Jays' Darren Oliver is undecided if he will continue playing in 2013, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Oliver says the main deciding factor will be "my two kids and my wife." The Blue Jays hold a $3MM club option on the left-hander, who has posted a 1.78 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9 in 60 relief appearances this year covering nearly 56 innings.
- The Rays ultimately may be known more for not providing enough support to take advantage of one of the best overall pitching performances in recent times; but, there has been a lot accomplished, writes Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin who recounts the good, bad and interesting.
- Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com has obtained an assessment of the Red Sox’s top 20 prospects by pro scouts for another big-league team. The young talent will be needed as Boston lost 90 games for the first time since 1966 after being swept by the Orioles today.
- The Yankees, Rangers and Orioles each clinched a playoff spot on Sunday evening thanks to a Mike Napoli-led Texas victory over the Angels. All three teams remain in the hunt for division titles, but three more regular season games must be played this week before final seeding can be determined. For the Orioles, the return to the playoffs comes after a lengthy absence as Baltimore's last postseason appearance came in 1997.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
Twins interim general manager Terry Ryan spoke to Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (in two separate pieces) about the Twins' season, offseason plans and his own future with the team. Here are some of the highlights...
- Ryan doesn't plan to fire Ron Gardenhire and says that he wouldn't make any changes to the coaching staff without Gardenhire's approval. "I don't think either one of us should independently make that call. I wouldn't want to force-feed a coach on a manager. That never works in a clubhouse," Ryan said. Souhan notes that Ryan didn't fire former Twins manager Tom Kelly even after Kelly had presided over eight consecutive losing seasons.
- The Twins' biggest offseason need is starting pitching, though Ryan described the free agent pitching market as "a little lean." The club isn't likely to get into a bidding war over big name free agent starters, though Ryan said the team would explore all avenues to improve their pitching, including possibly re-signing Carl Pavano and Scott Baker. The Twins have a $9.5MM team option on Baker for 2013 but I would think the team would decline that option and try to re-sign Baker on a new, smaller deal.
- Ryan is satisfied with the team's payroll (slightly over $100MM in 2012) and said finances weren't to blame for the last two seasons. "This one isn’t payroll-oriented at all. This is just making good baseball decisions," Ryan said.
- Justin Morneau has been the subject of trade rumors this year but Ryan sees the former MVP as part of next year's Twins. "I think his numbers are going to return. I think he's a core guy. He's a former MVP who's what, 31? He's one of the most important people in this organization, no doubt," Ryan said.
- In regards to his future as the Twins' GM, Ryan said he would make a decision after the season, though Souhan noted that Ryan "sounds as if he is determined to keep the job, even if he won't yet admit it." Twins owner Jim Pohlad said earlier this week that he would like Ryan to remain as GM and Ryan is free to remove the 'interim' tag from his job whenever he wishes.