Scott Baker Rumors

Twins Decline 2013 Option For Scott Baker

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.

Quick Hits: Baker, Hunter, Kershaw, LaRoche

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 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.

Quick Hits: Cardinals, Athletics, Farrell, Marlins

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.comKyle 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 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.

AL Notes: Trout, Ventura, Peavy, Twins, Playoffs

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'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 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'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 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 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.

Terry Ryan On Gardenhire, Morneau, Interim Tag

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.

Make Or Break Year: How Are They Doing?

Before the season, we identified 11 players who were entering "make or break" years. These guys had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for nice paydays in the future. Now that we're into August, let's take a second to check in each player (all links go to MLBTR posts)...

  • Scott Baker, Twins -- Baker, 30, had elbow surgery in April and will miss the entire season. Minnesota will likely decline his $9.25MM option for 2013 (no buyout).
  • Phil Hughes, Yankees -- The 26-year-old right-hander owns a 4.10 ERA in 131 2/3 innings this year, including a 3.40 ERA since mid-May. He's a safe bet to be tendered a contract for 2014, his final year as a arbitration-eligible player.
  • Jair Jurrjens, Braves -- Jurrjens, 26, pitched so poorly earlier in the season that he had to be sent to the minors. He's since resurfaced and owns 6.89 ERA in 48 1/3 innings, cementing his status as a non-tender candidate.
  • Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- Lind has battled back problems and also been demoted to Triple-A this season, and he's hit .227/.298/.394 while with the big league team. The 29-year-old continues to disappoint since signing his four-year, $18MM extension prior to 2010.
  • Francisco Liriano, White Sox -- It's been another up and down season for the 28-year-old southpaw, who owns a 5.03 ERA in 111 innings. The Twins traded Liriano to the ChiSox at the deadline.
  • James Loney, Dodgers -- Loney, now 28, hasn't helped himself at all this season, hitting just .251/.301/.330 in 327 plate appearances. He might have to settle for a minor league contract this coming offseason.
  • Kendrys Morales, Angels -- The 29-year-old is hitting .282/.327/.455 with 14 homers on the year, well below the level he established prior to his leg injury in 2010. Morales figures to be both a trade and non-tender candidate after the season.
  • Mike Pelfrey, Mets -- Pelfrey pitched to a 2.29 ERA in three starts before needing Tommy John surgery. The Mets are expected to non-tender the 28-year-old after the season.
  • Geovany Soto, Rangers -- The 29-year-old backstop has continued to deal with injuries in 2012 and is hitting just .201/.289/.356. Soto is an obvious non-tender candidate.
  • Kevin Youkilis, White Sox -- Youkilis lost his starting job with the Red Sox and was traded to the White Sox, who are likely to decline his $13MM option after the season. The 33-year-old has dealt with nagging injuries and is hitting .238/.339/.427 overall.
  • Delmon Young, Tigers -- Young, 26, has had a below-average season at the plate (.266/.298/.402) and has dealt with some off-field problems. He hasn't helped his free agent stock any.

Quick Hits: Hamilton, Baker, Phillips, Martinez

Angels right-hander Michael Kohn will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow and will miss the season according to Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). Here are some assorted links for Wednesday...

  • The Rangers recently met with Mike Moye, agent for Josh Hamilton, but the two sides didn't get too deep into contract extension talks according to Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
  • The Twins hope to replace Scott Baker internally, but there's a chance he might not pitch for them again according to's Rhett Bollinger (Twitter links). Baker will miss the year with elbow surgery and the team holds a $9MM option for next season.
  • Talks between the Reds and Brandon Phillips about a contract extension started last March according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. Phillips' agreed to a new deal this week.
  • The Tigers have some hope that Victor Martinez will return late this season, according to Tom Gage of the Detroit News (Twitter links). The switch-hitting DH didn't need ACL reconstruction on his injured knee, and may return before the season's up. The Tigers won't know whether Martinez can play until they get MRI results in July.
  • Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres reports that Padres owner John Moores initially sought $600MM for the team in 2008 and explains why it may sell for more this time around. The Padres are up for sale again, Moores announced yesterday.
  • Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the year-by-year breakdown for Ian Kinsler’s recent contract extension (Twitter link). The Rangers have a $10MM option for 2018 with a $5MM buyout.
  • Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that most teams believe Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton is the best prospect available in this year's amateur draft. There's a growing sense the Astros don't want to make a risky pick, yet there's no obvious second choice behind Buxton.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.

Scott Baker To Undergo Season-Ending Operation

The Twins have announced that right-hander Scott Baker will miss the 2012 season to undergo and recover from elbow surgery,'s Rhett Bollinger reports (Twitter links). The operation will repair Baker's flexor pronator tendon and rehab will take six months. Fortunately for Baker, his ulnar collateral ligament is fine.

Baker, 30, also dealt with elbow problems in 2010-11. The Twins shut him down during Spring Training and he left a minor league game after feeling discomfort last week, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Baker pitched 134 2/3 innings last year, posting a 3.14 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9. The Twins have a $9.25MM club option for his services in 2013 under an extension signed before the 2009 season. They may face a difficult decision this fall, when they have to exercise the option or let Baker walk.

Make Or Break Year: Scott Baker

Icon_11802008The Twins are coming off the second-losingest season since moving to Minnesota in 1961, in part because they only got 21 starts out of Scott Baker. The right-hander has been a stabilizing force in their rotation over the last half-decade, though he's now entering what might be the most important season of his career.

Performance has never been an issue for the 30-year-old Baker. He's consistently pitched to a 3.98 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and a 34.1% ground ball rate since breaking into the big leagues full-time in 2007. Brandon Warne of FanGraphs argued last month that Baker is one of the most underrated pitchers in the game, noting that his fastball command allows his otherwise nondescript stuff to play up. Like I said, his problem hasn't been performance. It's been staying on the field.

Baker has visited the DL in three of the last four seasons, and in that fourth year he missed most of September with an injury but remained active due to expanded rosters. He's dealt with a groin strain (2008), shoulder stiffness (2009), elbow soreness (2010), and a flexor strain (twice in 2011). Sure enough, elbow tendinitis has limited Baker in Spring Training this year. In his first start back this week, he allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings.

The Twins hold a $9.25MM club option for Baker's services next year with no buyout. He's a prime midseason trade candidate if they fall out of the race again, but another injury-riddled campaign could ruin Baker's trade value and prompt the team to cut ties with him after the season. If the Twins' longest-tenured starting pitcher can avoid the DL and pitch like his usual self this summer, Minnesota will have no qualms with bringing him back at that price in 2013.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.

AL Central Notes: Soria, Baker, Antonetti

Here's the latest from the AL Central...

  • Royals closer Joakim Soria has suffered "definite damage" in his right elbow's UCL, GM Dayton Moore told media (including Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star) today.  Soria will visit Dr. Lewis Yocum on Tuesday to determine if Tommy John surgery is necessary and, if so, it would be the second time Soria has undergone a Tommy John procedure in his career.  Greg Holland and Jonathan Broxton would seem like the top candidates to close games for the Royals in Soria's absence, but to keep tabs on the situation, follow MLBTR's Tim Dierkes on Twitter @CloserNews.
  • Some baseball people "have said for a while" that the Royals should've traded Soria while his value was at its highest, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Soria had an off-year by his standards in 2011 but still drew some trade interest over the winter, with Kansas City demanding a top starting pitcher in return. 
  • Even if Scott Baker struggles in 2012, the Twins could still be justified in picking up his $9.25MM option for 2013, writes John Bonnes of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti discusses Shin-Soo Choo, the importance of assembling a good defensive corps to help a pitching staff and several other topics with Grantland's Jonah Keri.

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