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scott baker twinsLast week, we talked about the possibility that the one-year deal the Chicago Cubs gave Scott Baker, as he comes back from Tommy John surgery, could be a precursor to a team-friendly extension, depending on how he performs in the early going this year.

Well, some recent comments that he made to his hometown paper have me wondering whether that’s really going to be possible.

“I really feel it was important for me to have that one-year deal, I feel good about this year,” Baker told the Shreveport Times when asked about the financial upside in signing a one-year, $5.5 million deal (plus $1.5 million in incentives) with the Cubs.

“I feel I can re-establish myself as a top-of-the-rotation guy. You’re just not doing yourself any favors to get locked into any type of option. I just wanted a chance to re-establish myself, show that I’m healthy and I still know how to pitch. I think Chicago is a very good place. It’s a good league. Even Theo said it can be a forgiving league. There were a lot of perks to signing there, and they were willing to give me a shot, so I think it’ll be a good fit.”

Now, then. His comments are, of course, all fine. I’ll never grouse about a professional athlete trying to get as much money as he can during the limited years he has to get it. Frankly, I think Baker was probably being very smart about his individual situation, given the surgery, and the timing of his free agency.

But it sure doesn’t sound like he’s going to be all that into a team-friendly extension.

To me, he sounds like a guy who wanted to find a place to put up some good numbers on a one-year, and one-year only, deal, so he could then get a big contract the following year. The Cubs were willing to be “used” like that because they, in turn, get to “use” Baker on a short-term no-risk deal. Maybe our assumptions about Baker not being viewed as a flippable piece – due, primarily, to the long recovery associated with Tommy John surgery (he’s not expected to be at 100% effectiveness until after the Trade Deadline) – are wrong. We’ll see, I guess.

Keep in mind, that’s him talking to his hometown paper. I would imagine he was being a bit more candid than he would be if he were talking to a Chicago outlet. In other words, I take him at his word that signing with the Cubs was less about finding a perfect fit for the long-term future, and more about finding the perfect fit to set himself up for a run at free agency in 2014.

Again: nothing wrong with that.

  • Sandberg

    Sounds like a win-win

  • Jono

    I don’t see anything in there that suggests he doesn’t want to pitch for the Cubs after 2013, only why he preferred a 1 year deal over a multiple year deal. Would if the Cubs gave him a qualifying offer and he rejects it, do the Cubs get an extra draft pick?

    • DarthHater

      Nobody said Baker suggested he wouldn’t want to pitch for the Cubs, only that he is planning to test free agency, rather than sign an extension.

      • Jono

        I get that, but the way I see things, if Baker hits free agency, he’s probably not going to sign with the Cubs in 2014. I don’t see him rejecting an extension, then the Cubs offering him even more in free agency. If he rejects what the Cubs are willing to pay, then he plays somewhere else, on a better team for more than what the Cubs offer….in my opinion, maybe I’m wrong and the Cubs up their offer in free agency and he signs. I just don’t see that happening

      • Jono

        …..and the point being that even if he signs an extension, he’ll still get paid more than what he would’ve gotten from a multi year deal this year. Extension in summer 2013 > multi year deal in winter of ’12/’13

    • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      He wasn’t saying that. He was saying there was hope we could get a hometown discount for giving him this opportunity, and that is just not going to happen based on what he said.

      • Jono

        If he puts up good numbers this year, the extension the Cubs offer him will be more than what Baker would’ve got from a multi year deal from this off season. That in no way means he’ll reject the extension for fee agency. Not saying he won’t hit free agency, but he didn’t say anything that makes me believe he’s not interested in an extension

    • Webb

      Peas just thinking about the qualifying offer concept. I he is only healthy after the trade deadline the Cubs should absolutely offer him one. That would be the best way to recoup their 2013 investment on him.

      • Webb

        I was** just thinking…
        auto-corrected.

  • preacherman86

    on a one year deal, if baker performs well, under the new cba, could we get a compensation pick for him?

  • http://Ehanauer.com Clark Addison

    Given his injury, I doubt that anybody would have offered more than one year.

  • http://www.sportsdanny.com Dan

    He’s a #2 starter when fully healthy – not a bad piece to have on a one year deal and possibly longer if not traded

    • Marc N.

      #2 starter is being generous. I would never feel comfortable throwing Baker second in a playoff game regardless of how his Fangraphs page reads. He’s pitched in relatively friendly conditions for the vast majority of his career, and yes I know that is somewat reflected in certain numbers.

      I do think he’s a quality pitcher THO, at his best.

  • WGNstatic

    Another piece of this is the Cubs’ option to make him a qualifying offer. If he is indeed healthy and reestablishes himself as a 2-3 type starter, then he would certainly be worthy of a qualifying offer.

    Look at what is happening with Kyle Lohse. I could see something similar happening with Baker in terms of his value on the open market. Yes, he would be worth the one year ~$14M deal to the Cubs, but would he get the contract he wants on the open market? If Kyle Lohse is an example, perhaps not.

    Not saying that he couldn’t be flipped, but, it is good to remember that even if he is healthy and effective, there is likely to be a strong incentive to resign with the Cubs.

  • Dustin S

    I would hope there would be some loyalty after helping him back this year, you just never know with players today. You can’t really blame him though. It would help if this year is on the upper end of the win prediction range. He is also married with 3 kids, and not wanting to move again or make kids change schools can be as big of a factor as anything.

    • Mick

      I’m not going to go as far as Baker’s a scumbag but he’s a lot closer to scumbag than loyal. All Baker cares about is money so if the Cubs offer the most money than he’ll re-sign.

      • CubFan Paul

        This again? Where’s the link that says the Twins offered $5M-$7M?

        Baker was scheduled to make at least $9M in 2013 before the *team* declined his Option ($9.25M). The Cubs gave him $5.5M guaranteed. Why would he take LESS? He was a free agent by the *team’s* own doing…

        • Mick

          Isn’t that what Brett’s analysis was basically stating, don’t expect any loyalty from Baker. He’s in it for the $$, he’s not taking any hometown discounts, he said it in his own words. All of the quotes from Baker prior to signing with the Cubs were that he wanted to stay in Minnesota and that they were working on a new deal. The real issue was the 2nd year option Minnesota wanted, you know, since he was coming off of TJS and probably won’t pitch until June. This leads me to believe the money was comparable.

          Here’s a link to a great Twins’ site with an acumulation of all Scott Baker related stories, feel free to do your own deduction wise-guy :) http://aarongleeman.com/tag/scott-baker/

          • CubFan Paul

            Where’s the link that says the Twins offered $5M-$7M? Why would he take LESS (for 2013)?

            Go figure. You dodged/didn’t answer any question. Scott Baker says take your agenda and shove it :)

            So why are butt hurt Minnesota fans here? Damn WGN…

          • Edwin

            Every single player in baseball is “in it for the $$$”. I could give two shits about how “loyal” any player is. The players don’t owe the team or fans any more than their performance on the field. It’s not being disloyal to try and get the best deal financially for yourself.

            • Mick

              Wow, and you call yourself a Cubs fan. Go look up the story of Andre Dawson and his first free agent contract with the Cubs.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                Well, there were extenuating circumstances in Dawson’s case. Remember, the owners were colluding, and the players needed somebody to force their hand. Dawson & his agent did so. In a way, Dallas Green was in a no-win situation: if he rejected Dawson’s blank contract offer, then the obvious would have become more obvious; if he accepted it, then his actions to get back into the good graces of other GMs would be used as legal evidence of the obvious!

                • hansman1982

                  and even if we take Dawson’s blank contract with the Cubs at face value – that is 1 example in the 40 years of free agency. At 100 free agent contracts a year, that is 1 out of 40,000…

                  • Mick

                    You’re not counting all the players that took the “hometown discounts” or players that signed for less to play for contending teams. I don’t have a spreadsheet for every instance but in recent memory CJ Wilson signed for less to play for the Angles. Also, Jared Weaver signed a below market extension to stay with the Angels. I understand loyalty in business is a thin argument, it’s not like this is the 50’s where employees stay with the same companies until they retire. But, as a fan of a sports franchise, you hope this could be the case in some instances. For example, you’d hope Shark and the Cubs could find some middle ground for an extension.

    • Behind enemy lines (south side cub fan)

      The front office isn’t giving more money to players out of loyalty; why should players take less money on the same basis? It’s a line of argument that has some amount of fan appeal — we love ‘the club’ in the abstract — but it essentially amounts to saying the guys we enjoy watching should get less of a share than the billionaire in the box seats (who does nothing on ‘loyalty’ and everything on bottom line, as a competitive team needs to).

      • Dick McCheesedoodle

        When people get all uppity about what they perceive as a player being ‘selfish’, they may as well just write ‘I am selfishly upset that the player is not doing what I want him to do’

      • Mick

        I was just looking at it from a fans’ perspective, trust me, I’m equally frustrated with the Twins front office too. If the Twins had just dropped the insistence on a 2nd year option, Baker would probably be pitching for the Twins, well, in June anyway.

      • Marc N.

        Player wants money: Greedy scumbag!

        Owner doesn’t want to pay up: Zomg right way efficiency!

        • Mick

          You might get your wish, Shark declined a 5-year extension this offseason. According to you, ownership has drawn the line and should stick to it.

          • CubFan Paul

            I think Shark still gets his extension before the season starts, because of the $2.64M salary thing.

            Meaning I think he didn’t negotiate a higher 2013 ‘year one arbitration salary’ because of a handshake agreement with Theo&Co that an extension would get done by April.

  • CubFan Paul

    Even healthy Baker will still only be a 3yr/$30Mish next offseason. So by turning down the qualifying offer his market *will* be hurt.

    If anything Baker and Garza will plead to Theo&Co for a July trade to totally skirt the QO.

    • JR

      Yeah I agree with that. Even if Baker pitches well there is no way he could turn down a qualifying offer from the Cubs. He would have a tougher job than Lohse getting a contract with the compensation tied to him.

      • CubFan Paul

        I’d rather have a healthy 2014 Scott Baker with compensation tied to him than the 2013 Lohse..

        • JR

          Regardless, players like Lohse/Baker will always have trouble getting paid when they have compensation tied to them. And $14 Mill. is nothing to laugh at either if I am the player.

          • Whiteflag

            Very interesting. I’d agree.

    • JoeyCollins

      I don’t know if he would take the QO. With his injury history you’d think he has to be lloking for atleast three years. Even if it is at a discounted rate.

  • JR

    If Baker is pitching well at the deadline, that dude is as good as gone. I would be shocked if Feldman, Hairston, and Baker weren’t all dealt by the deadline.

    • CubFan Paul

      Add Garza, Stewart, DeJesus, Marmol, Fujikawa, and Sori to your list to be dealt at deadline.

      The Farm after all those trades will be solidified in the Top 5 for 2014.

      • Marc N.

        If trading ALL those guys doesn’t result in, far and away, the best farm system in the league then I would be forced to say “F these losers.”

  • Marc N.

    Feldman is the Scott that is a good candidate to extend. I was on the “he’s a healthier but lite version of Brandon McCarthy” train before FanGraphs, and I think he could really surprise here.

  • StevenF

    I have to agree with JR (post at 10:55am)

  • Jono

    I still dont see in his quotes where he said he wouldn’t accept an extension. And we have no clue how much the team is willing to pay him for an extension, so how can we say whether or not it will be enough? And he said nothing about a home town discount, only that he’d want a multi year deal for more than he would’ve gotten this winter. And we CAN assume that an offered extension will be worth more than a possible multi year deal this year. So I see nothing in his quotes that suggest he won’t sign an extension

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      And I didn’t say he wouldn’t sign an extension.

      • Jono

        Thats how the headline sounds

        • TWC

          ‘Course, if you read the article, not just the headline, you’d realize there’s a large amount of nuance and parsing happening in Ace’s post.

          • Spencer

            Nuance and parsing? Here? No way.

            • TWC

              But but but… what *exactly* do you mean, Spencer?

          • Jono

            I did read the article. I was just referring to the headline.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Even if you set aside the actual content of the piece, there is a considerably difference between “I’m not so sure Scott Baker is going to be interested in an extension” and “Scott Baker is not going to sign an extension.”

          To wit: I would never say the latter with any kind of authority. To do so would be silly. Because, of course, it is possible that he ultimately does sign an extension. I, however, have grown concerned that he isn’t necessarily as into that plan as I once thought he might be.

          • Jono

            I understand that. I just had a differed interpretation. No biggie

      • northsiders6

        Sure looks like you said you don’t think he will sign an extension.

  • terencem

    I haven’t seen this 1 year deal as anything other than Scott Baker trying to rebuild value so he can hit free agency. These are his prime earning years and there’s no reason he shouldn’t try to get the most out of them.

  • Whiteflag

    Headline reads to me that extension/hometown discount doesn’t seem as likely. Which from the quotes, is a conclusion one could draw. However, I also see how you could see it the way you laid out. Bottomline for me…the quotes don’t seem to provide definiative proof of either situation. Better just wait it out.

    • DarthHater

      What? And pass up a perfectly good opportunity to endlessly nit-pick each other’s interpretations of every word he says? Surely you jest!

      • Jono

        Nit-picking, or offering a different interpretation of a quote? I guess offering different points of view is frowned upon her

        • TWC

          Oh, cry me a fracking river. There’s plenty of differing opinions here, day in and day out, on every post.

          There’s also plenty of people ready to start whining that they’re being marginalized for voicing their opinions, too.

          • Jono

            Relax, im not the one complaining about different points of view. Its only the internet

            • Cubbie Blues

              “I guess offering different points of view is frowned upon her”
              No, not complaining at all.

              • Jono

                That wasn’t in response to an interpretation of this article. It was in response to someone complaining

                • Cubbie Blues

                  Darth wasn’t complaining. You will know when he complains. (It isn’t pretty.)

                  • Jono

                    Riiiight, of course not…… ;)

                    • DarthHater

                      If I was complaining about nit-picking, it was directed at myself as much as anybody else. I was really making a tongue-in-cheek observation about Whiteflag’s idealistic expectation that anybody around a blog like this would be capable of just waiting something out, as opposed to debating it to death.

                  • DarthHater

                    Why, I oughtta… :-P

        • Mick

          Yes, but it’s up to you turn that frown upside down.

          P.S. I got your back on any Scott Baker being a scumbag debate and also if you agree that Baez is a better prospect than Lindor.

          • Jono

            No frowning going on over here, im all smiles for spring training!!

      • Jono

        Go cubs!! :) I love all cubs fans. If we were at a bar, id enjoy having a beer with you and talking more about interpreting quotes! Go cubs!

      • Jono

        That was meant as a reply to your last comment, but i guess it was too deep in replies to keep replying. I wonder how many times I can write the word “reply” in one post?

    • Jono

      Exactly, the quotes were too ambiguous to suggest he wouldn’t want an extension. I guess im not the only one who had that interpretation

  • Whiteflag

    Brett is so silly. He thinks he’s allowed to give his opinion on his own site.

  • Marc N.

    On the Samardzija extension talk:

    How come all the emphasis is on that he turned down a deal when he specifically said “they” when talking about being comfortable with a commitment?

  • DPRagen

    If this Baker deal doesn’t prove Theo isn’t the brightest light in the room then what would?

  • Fastball

    If I was Baker I would be saying the exact same thing he is alluding to. Baseball careers are mostly short. You have to make all the money you can when the opportunity presents itself. I think a lot of pitchers are looking at the Kyle Lohse scenario and getting a game plan together with their agents. It’s a poker hand you got to play the hand your dealt. He make come out and be like Rick Sutcliffe when he came to the Cubs. Just go on a tear pitching himself to a Cy Young in a half season in Chicago. Not saying that will happen but he could become something special and give us some great service.

  • Brian Peters

    It really makes no never mind to me where Baker is in 2014. The thing I am still shaking my head about is Baker’s belief that he can be a top-of-the-rotation kind of guy. If that’s ever true, I will eat my hat. Of course, I’ll have to buy one first, but it would worth it, I suppose.

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