Hey! A move!
Today, the Chicago Cubs announced that they’ve signed pitcher Scott Baker, formerly of the Twins, to a one-year deal. The details should be coming soon.
Baker, a righty starter, is making his way back from Tommy John surgery, and was probably looking for a soft place to land, re-establish himself, and then hopefully sign a more lucrative contract in the near future. The Cubs, thankfully, can provide that opportunity. And if Baker succeeds by July, with the Cubs out of contention, he becomes a nicely flippable piece.
We’ve discussed Baker here a bit before, as he fit the mold of the Cubs’ preferred pitching option this offseason – namely, a bounce-back candidate they could secure on a short deal:
Baker, 31, missed all of 2012 after April Tommy John surgery, but he’s expected to be ready to go next year. It seems like he’ll have to settle for a one-year-plus-option type deal, which is right in the Cubs’ wheelhouse. He was always a pretty effective pitcher with the Twins, with a 106 ERA+, 1.241 WHIP, and 3.48 K/BB in his most recent five seasons.
The Cubs have said that they hope to sign at least two starting pitchers this offseason, so Baker is likely just the start of things to come. He’s certainly a high upside option, but it will take more than Baker – much more – to make the Cubs’ rotation serviceable in 2013. Given his recovery from surgery, and a possible limit in innings (not a huge limitation, but maybe some), I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baker be one of three starting pitchers signed this offseason, rather than just two.
Obviously this signing, and its implications, will be discussed at length in the coming days and weeks.
UPDATE: Patrick Mooney has a source who tells him that Baker will get $5.5 million on a one-year deal, with up to $1.5 million in incentives. If you’re looking for a comparison, Paul Maholm got $4.75 million and gave the Cubs a $6.5 million club option. In other words, Maholm’s deal was more team friendly, but he was coming off of shoulder weakness, and hadn’t been quite as consistently good as Baker pre-injury. This is a solid low-risk, high-upside signing.