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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.

  • BD

    I like this move quite a bit. So we stand at:

    Garza (if healthy)
    Samardzija
    Wood
    Baker

    (That would be a great looking rotation if the empty spot was filled by a true #1 horse)

  • BPaoni

    I dig it, at worst he is a one year dud and at best he bounces back and can be flipped to a contender. Good signing for the Cubbies, now lets go snag Brandon McCarthy!

  • Sandberg

    Finally some news. This offseason had started out on a very uninteresting foot.

  • Idaho Razorback

    I like it!

  • JulioZuleta

    If you’re a veteran and want the best chance of finishing the year with a contender,you’re best bet might be to sign with the Cubs. I would put the early odds on Baker being traded a 73%.

    • BluBlud

      Im more at like 85%. Hey, maybe we can trade him to the twins for Miguel Sano or Byron Buxton, maybe even Hudson Boyd.

  • Kyle

    The peripherals are really pretty, but the year after Tommy John surgery is usually problematic. He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher, so pray the wind doesn’t blow out on him too often.

    I like him as a fifth starter. As long as we aren’t counting on him as more than that, I’m happy.

  • Shep

    Anyone like a one year flyer on Jon Garland

  • KoyieHillsucks

    zzzz, another injured player that they hope will pan out…

    • Serio

      Ummm where have you been? Thats what Jed and Theo said they were going to do all along

  • MightyBear

    Hallelujah! The Cubs get somebody I wanted them to get. I think this is fantastic. Low risk, high reward.

  • Fishin Phil

    I like this move!

  • http://Aol.com Larry

    This seems to be a solid move.

  • North Side Irish

    I like it because the downside is limited, but they still need two more veteran SPs. Garza and Baker will both be coming back from arm injuries, Samardzija is coming off a career high in innings, and Travis Wood hasn’t shown enough to be a rotation lock heading into the season. If anyone is injured or not ready for the start of the season, the Cubs are back to giving starts to the Raley/Rusin/Coleman types.

    Sign two of the McCarthy/Marcum/Liriano/Villanueva types and they have enough depth. Flip two of them at the deadline and you can give some starts to Vizcaino or Struck in the second half.

    • willis

      Absolutely agree. There really aren’t any “sure” things in the rotation, even with the four arms now available. So I would love seeing two more arms inked.

  • CubFan Paul

    hopefully Baker is definitely one of three starting pitchers signed this offseason

  • cubchymyst

    Looking at Baker’s stats he seems to be a fly ball pitcher, I hope he doesn’t pitch on to many days when the wind is blowing out. I do like his low walk rate.

    • MightyBear

      This is what I liked so much about Baker. He throws strikes. I’m sick of Cub pitchers walking guys.

      • cubchymyst

        The lack of walks make me much more optimistic about this signing, then I was about the Liriano offer.

  • Featherstone

    Wish there was a team option added to the deal as well like the Maholm deal, but beggars cant be choosers. Good signing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m sure the Cubs asked. They probably couldn’t agree on the amount for that option – Baker may be convinced he’s going to come back strong.

      • Featherstone

        Understandable. I hope he comes back strong too so we can trade him at the deadline so it seems like a great way to shore up the rotation this year while also offer a great upside move for reasonable money/risk.

        • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

          His trade value is diminished by the lack of team option. :(

        • cjdubbya

          Hey, next year’s not here yet, let’s hope we have to keep him because he’s awesome and the team outperforms expectations, catches lightning in a bottle, everyone has career years, etc.

  • #23

    he should at least be an upgrade over Volstad, Wells, etc. without much effort.

  • BFM

    I like this move.
    Need a couple of more to solidify things.
    Would love to see Sanchez in Cubbie blue.
    Nice piece to build a future around.

  • Randy

    I certainly hope they have in mind 2 more starters. They must have learned from last year that injuries will happen and you cant have enough pitching nor can you count on Garza or Bakers health. Also, Wood is kind of iffy to me eve nfor a 5th starter. To me its a good signing but lets see more.

  • MightyBear

    I kind of wished they had a club option for next year but beggars can’t be choosers.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Wow, you and Feather think alike.

      • MightyBear

        Yeah, I didn’t even see the post before I posted. Scary.

  • JL

    I wonder if they gave him a listen-in-on-GM-calls clause

  • #23

    I wouldn’t necessarily assume he will be traded mid-season. He could pitch his way into an extension possibly too.

    • http://thenewenthusiast.com dw8

      Hopefully pitches his way into declining a qualifying offer. 2013 Offseason begins today!

  • JR

    Don’t all pitchers now have an innings limit on their first yr back from Tommy John? Which makes me wonder how value can he have at the deadline even if he’s pitching well? I am not trying to hate on this deal just curious.. At least it’s something I guess.

    • Noah

      I don’t think that’s true at all. You’ll see innings limits with young studs, but Adam Wainwright threw 198.2 innings this past season. The reason to put a guy on an innings limit is because you see a risk that potentially affects your team negatively in the future.

      The Cubs just have no reason to put Baker on an innings limit, nor would a team trading for him. They aren’t counting on Baker long term, they’d just want him to get through the season.

      The real question is what Baker’s control and command will be like in the first year coming back from Tommy John. He doesn’t need to be the 2009-2011 version of Scott Baker on day one, but for the Cubs to maximize value he’ll need to be that by, say mid-June.

      But if it works out, he’ll be easily tradeable due to the minimal contract and should bring back a solid prospect but flawed prospect similar to Vizcaino.

      • JR

        I am not trying to compare Baker to a guy like Strausburg at all. Obviously not even in the same ballpark. But if I am Baker or his agent I’m thinking why is it cool for a young stud to get protected but not me? Just saying.. I am also sure it’s not the easiest thing in the world to sign guys to one yr deals either when they know they will be flipped. So good move by the Cubs I guess..

        • Melrosepad

          Why not do what the Braves did with Medlen. Let him spend the 1st month in the bullpen as long relief then put him in the rotation afterwards. It potentially would save some “innings” for the year for later on.

          • JR

            Yeah I can see that Melrosepad. Maybe not pitch him at all until May 1st? I guess there are ways around an innings limit for a team who doesn’t care about winning that yr.

        • Noah

          I’ve never seen a player or an agent demand an innings limit, though. And I think if Baker said that he was done say, on September 1, the Cubs, or whomever he was with would be able to void the remainder of the contract.

          Beyond that, why would Baker want an innings limit? He’s 31 and will have his last chance to get a big contract a year from now. He wants to show he can throw 180 or 200 innings to maximize value.

  • Frank

    I view this as I do/did Francisico Liriano. If he’s the 2nd of 2 starting pitchers acquired, I’m happy with it. However, if our two additions to the rotation are Baker and Liriano, we may as well start flipping them in April.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t disagree.

  • Dustin S

    I like this deal and it’s a lot closer to what I was expecting this offseason than aiming higher for someone like Haren.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Baker could easily have a better season than Haren, for whatever that’s worth.

  • Tim

    Brett, I know much can go wrong but I was wondering what in your opinion, Baker could send back the Cubs way at the deadline if he comes back to form where he was before

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If he’s clearly back to where he was, the Cubs could probably net – at the best – a just-below Christian Villanueva type prospect. Someone notable, and possibly in consideration for the 10 to 15 range in the system. That’s my very, very early thought on the subject.

      • Tim

        but as someone else noted, being that he’s coming off tommy john surgery, will that make a team reluctant to trade anyone of value for him? knowing that quite often these pitchers are put on an innings limit their first season back?

        • hansman1982

          If a team is viewing him as a 2-3 month rental they won’t care about innings limit (and Baker probably won’t care either) see, Sabathia, C.C. and Douchenozzles, Milwaukee

  • Hebner The Gravedigger

    Since it is nearing Thanksgiving… I am thankful to have Baker in the ’13 rotation instead of Volstad. According to the local press, the Twins were trying to get him back. So, this is a nice little win for the Cubs.

  • G_Racin

    I like the deal, but our 40 man roster is getting pretty full!

    • Rcleven

      Plenty can still happen between now and the 40 man rule 5 deadline. Stay tuned.

  • Big Daddy

    I like this deal. Baker for Mike Olt and Martin Perez at the deadline. Lol.

  • terencemann

    I’m a Baker fan and I really like this move, I wonder if it means the Cubs would peel off on McCarthy since they already have 3 pitchers (Baker, Vizcaino, Garza) with injury questions (although McCarthy is a bit unique).

  • Njriv

    I hope McCarthy is next,

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