Scott Baker Rumors
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.
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 MLB.com'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.
The Twins have announced that right-hander Scott Baker will miss the 2012 season to undergo and recover from elbow surgery, MLB.com'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.
The 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.
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.
The latest from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe...
- The Dodgers are not ready to become sellers quite yet, but Cafardo reports that the team's scouts are already compiling lists of other teams' better prospects. Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jamey Carroll are among the players who would be made available --- Kuroda is already attracting the attention of several teams and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at Carroll's trade candidacy two weeks ago.
- Cafardo reports that the Indians looked into Casey Blake as a depth option at third base before Lonnie Chisenhall was called up. Blake, Jonathan Broxton and Jon Garland are all currently on the DL but would be shopped by L.A. if they can prove they're healthy.
- The Dodgers don't appear to be interested in moving higher-profile players like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier or James Loney since "the feeling is Dodgers fans would rebel if some of their star players were sold off." I don't think Loney falls into this category at all -- he has just a .678 OPS this season and could be a non-tender candidate after the season, so the Dodgers would love to get something back for him.
- J.J. Hardy will be "a major trade chip" for the Orioles if the two sides can't work out a contract extension before the deadline. Hardy would become the top option for shortstop-needy teams, particularly if the Mets don't shop Jose Reyes.
- "It’s no secret that [Wandy Rodriguez] is being watched closely by the Yankees, who have sent a few people to watch some of his starts," Cafardo writes. As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted a few weeks ago, the Yankees would want Rodriguez at the back of their rotation while the Astros would want a trade package befitting an ace, so there may not be a fit between the two teams. Cafardo notes that Brett Myers "also remains on the Yankees' radar."
- The Twins are more likely to deal Carl Pavano or Francisco Liriano than they would Scott Baker, though "there are teams that would love to get their hands on Baker."
- The White Sox recently sent assistant general manager Dave Yokum to scout some Braves games for pitching. Cafardo specifically cites Brandon Beachy as a starter the Sox were watching and says that Beachy or Derek Lowe could be shopped by Atlanta in exchange for a hitter. I think it's obvious the Braves would prefer to move the expensive Lowe rather than a young, controllable pitcher like Beachy, but if the Braves wanted to pick up a big bat like Carlos Quentin (as Cafardo speculates), Atlanta certainly has the pitching depth to spare.
Sunday night linkage...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Dodgers "will not restructure Juan Pierre's contract to make him go away."
- Murray Chass likes Jim Bowden, while Hal McCoy has a negative recollection.
- ESPN's Peter Gammons wrote about teams clamoring for Marlins prospect Michael Stanton last July.
- Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News talked to Baseball-Reference mastermind Sean Forman.
- Aaron Gleeman analyzes Scott Baker's new extension with the Twins.
- RotoAuthority recently looked at catcher tiers for fantasy baseball drafts.
3:48pm: Christensen adds the annual details: Baker will earn $750K this year, $3MM in '10, $5MM in '11, and $6.5MM in '12. So, $14.5MM for the three arb years.
1:07pm: According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Twins signed pitcher Scott Baker to a four-year deal with an option for 2013. The deal is worth $15.25MM and the '13 option is for $9.25MM. The contract includes this year and his three arb years and gives the team an option on one free agent season. Baker's extension is very similar to Paul Maholm's deal, which was signed on January 30th.
The 27 year-old righty posted a fine 3.45 ERA in 28 starts last year. He has the impeccable control many Twins pitchers have displayed over the years.
Twins right-hander Scott Baker said recently that he would be open to signing a long-term deal to stay in Minnesota. Kelly Thesier has the report over at MLB.com.
"I have definitely entertained the idea of it." Baker said. "I like this place. I like playing here. I like the coaching staff and obviously we have a great clubhouse. It's kind of up to them, but I definitely have thought about it."
Multiyear deals for pitchers can be risky, but Baker has shown the kind of consistency over the past two seasons that would warrant long-term consideration by most teams. He is 20-13 with a 3.81 ERA in 381 innings since the start of 2007 and is still only 27 years of age.
La Velle E. Neal III and Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune have the latest Twins buzz.
- The Twins would like to trade Boof Bonser to make room for Francisco Liriano. The Giants and Rangers might be interested.
- Targets for the Twins: relief help, third base, and second base.
- Talks for Adrian Beltre are not dead. The Mariners are eyeing Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Denard Span. The Twins aren't biting. Sounds like the Mariners want a premium arm for Beltre from the Twins or Giants, but those teams see it as more of a salary dump.
- The Twins asked about Brian Roberts but couldn't get anywhere.
- The Rays might be looking at Craig Monroe as a bench option.