View Full Version : Scott Baker - stay or go?

05-26-2012, 10:58 PM
Back in April when he had TJ surgery, the conventional wisdom was that Baker had pitched his last game as a Twin - why would the Twins pick up his $9.25M option for 2013?

Now, with the implosion of the rotation and Liriano and Blackburn falling off the map, one has to wonder if that CW might be changing. Granted, he is not a #1 starter (and never will be) but he has been a reliable, steady pitcher the last few years, with decent numbers and winning more games than losing (even in 2011!). Even if Gibson makes a good recovery, there are still plenty of holes in the rotation, and while there will be free agent options out there, will they really be that much cheaper than Baker? One could make the case that it makes sense to pick up his option year, knowing he will be a free agent in 2014, just to plug a rotation hole short-term.

Of course, this all depends on his recovery, but if it goes well he's got a shot at being ready by season start or close to it.


05-26-2012, 11:14 PM
I don't know. Even with a good recovery, most guys aren't that effective their first year back from TJ surgery. I think I still wouldn't pick up his option and if he wants to resign he can do so for less and then prove himself. If he walks, he walks.

05-26-2012, 11:30 PM
A healthy Scott Baker is worth the contract.

I wish I had confidence in the Twins ability to assess the injury risk. It is a gamble either way.

As long as he gets the clear from the medical team, I think the Twins would be better off gambling on a guy with the upside of a #2 starter.

I don't want to spend any more money on apparent safer choices like Marquis and Carroll. I am only thankful that they didn't add to it last winter by signing an apparently safe no upside veteran reliever like Todd Coffey or Dan Wheeler.

Seth Stohs
05-26-2012, 11:49 PM
I woudln't pick up the option, but I would absolutely try to bring him back... maybe a 1 year, $1 million contract, with a team option for $5 million for the second year. Something like that. For the right price, and maybe incentives, I would bring him back.

05-26-2012, 11:49 PM
It's a gamble. What will someone pay him. Will it be for one or two years. If the Twins pick up the option they have a $9 million damaged pitcher who if he does halfway decent would demand a rise if you wish to keep him for 2014.

Fire Dan Gladden
05-27-2012, 12:01 AM
I agree with Seth. Furthermore, I would think the Twins have the inside track as they know him best and Baker would need to prove he can pitch again to bring in another big dollar contract.

Top Gun
05-27-2012, 12:16 AM
Ya Baker must go can't pickup that option, but he is welcome to come back.

05-27-2012, 06:44 AM
I doubt he would be willing to come back unless the entire medical staff is overhauled. He is better off signing with a team that has a decent medical staff on a 1 year deal to get right.

05-27-2012, 07:45 AM
Can't pick up option because earliest he could be ready is mid season and even that is a longshot. It would be stupid to commit $9 million for that.

Shane Wahl
05-27-2012, 09:10 AM
Other that that $1 million, one year offer Seth proposed, there is no way in hell they should bother with Baker.

05-27-2012, 10:09 AM
A smaller contract for Baker won't be an option.

If the Twins don't pick up his option, he will be with another team. The discussion should be pick up his option or let him go.

The Twins must also factor in that it will be very difficult for them to sign a pitcher in the free agent. Why would a player choose Minnesota over another team given the same contract? They wouldn't. The only way is to overpay over multiple years. We have enough of those contracts.

Their choice will be risk the money on Baker, sign a decline phase #5 pitcher or get lucky with a minor league free agent. It isn't going to be spend money on Grienke instead. Which would you choose Baker, decline guy or minor league free agent?

Boom Boom
05-27-2012, 10:35 AM
The option needs to be declined. After that, I suppose the Twins could negotiate a significantly cheaper deal with him, but I doubt he'd come back under those circumstances.

05-27-2012, 10:36 AM
Impossible to say, there's just not enough information. With all the surgery, how can we even know if Scott Baker will be able to throw a baseball 90mph after rehab? If so, will he be able to throw strikes? Baker's best days depended on his pitches moving a lot, like Jake Peavy in his prime. Peavy had shoulder surgery, and he struggled to get back, changing his pitching style to a sub-90's nibbler. If Baker's recovery and future are like that, then why not go with younger arms?

Again, there's just no way to gauge Baker's future. A few guys get all their velocity back after surgery, but most don't. Scott Baker minus 3mph and minus movement would get killed every time out.

05-27-2012, 12:16 PM
NO way they pick up the $9 mil but I think they try and bring him back on a 1 yr deal and hope he can pitch by midseason next yr. Seths Idea seems most reasonable and Baker likes it here and has only known the Twins so he would consider it I would think. Doubtful another team would offer much more so why would'nt Baker stay with what he knows and hope for the best.

05-27-2012, 12:34 PM
if its pick up his 9m option in his first yr back from TJ .....NO. Spend the 9m on a healthy reliable FA pitcher.
If he's up to signing a smaller incentive deal or a smaller mulit yr deal....yes, he's a solid pitcher on those days when he can pitch (few & far between). Be a solid #4/5 with a potential to be a #2 type.

05-27-2012, 02:30 PM
Why not offer an incentive laden contract where he can make his fair value if he produces?

05-27-2012, 03:04 PM
I don't think they will pick up the option. We won't have access to medical data, so as jimbo says it is impossible to say.

I am certain he will not resign with the Twins. He will say all the right things and so will the Twins but he will move on. The Twins will have one chance to keep him. Pick up the option.

I am also certain that they will not be able to sign a good starter for the same money.

Good free agents shop for teams. What would make Minnesota attractive to a free agent? The only way I can see it would be to significantly overpay by salary or years. The Twins can't risk another long term contract. Baker may be the smaller risk.

05-27-2012, 06:11 PM
This is a very tough decision for the Twins. I disagree with some in this discussion that Baker is a nibbler. Far from it. When healthy, besides Liriano, he is the only starter(starters beginning of spring training) with a live arm. He also has a nice downward break on the slider, or curve ball. So if he heals properly there is a big upside for Twins--which need starting pitching desperately. The guy that they should cut bait with is Blackburn--really a one pitch guy--no upside at all.

05-27-2012, 06:35 PM
... maybe a 1 year, $1 million contract, with a team option for $5 million for the second year.

I would decline the option but try to bring him back, but I doubt that will get it done. I get the feeling he isn't too happy with Twins mgmt right now and is likely to get a better offer elsewhere. My guess is the Twins under-value a healthy Baker and are too risk-averse to try to keep him.

05-27-2012, 07:52 PM
In terms of baseball, I agree with Seth - - - big risk when a guy's coming back from TJ.

"The other hand" is the "marketing a team" angle.

Even with the injury, Baker's the best "prospect" of our 2013 FA starting pitchers. The rotation we thought we were going to have - Pavano, Baker, Liriano, Blackburn & (your name here) - is in shambles. Do we have farm system guys who are ready to step into the rotation? Not really - good start this year by Diamond & Walters, but really, aren't they both doing better than we expected (expect)? If they regress to the mean ....

We're not going to be in the running for good FA starting pitching - not willing to spend that much $ on one guy. Are we going to try to get FA guys for "no more than we spent this year on these guys?"

How do you sell / market the 2013 Twins if you've let 60% of this year's rotation walk?

05-27-2012, 09:01 PM
Good discussion - what I hoped for. I agree with those who say it's either pick up the option or wave goodbye - I don't see Baker re-signing for less; he'll get offers from elsewhere (that's how desperate the other 29 clubs are for pitching as well). Someone will take a chance on him.

Does anybody know when the Twins need to make their decision on the option? Is it before or after free agency opens up? Maybe we can see what's out there and what we might be able to get for comparable money, before having to make a decision either way. Without a replacement, though, I don't see how we have a choice other than biting the bullet. If Diamond and Walters continue to shine, and if (miracle of miracles) Liriano and/or Blackburn find their way back, maybe then, but otherwise you need a veteran to anchor this staff and provide stability. Baker can do that (if he's healthy!).

05-27-2012, 10:00 PM
Baker has a solid record with the Twins. You can see his stats here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/6261/scott-baker

What stands out to me is that over the last 7 years, the only year in which Baker made it to postseason was 2010, and he pitched only 2.1 innings in that postseason game.

I checked Baker's stats to test my gut feeling that he has disappointed me a lot over the years. Baker is solid for part or most of the regular season. But when playoff time comes and we are hoping for a hero to shut out the evil Yankees, Baker is almost never on the mound.

Would the MLB rules allow the following deal???:
-- $1 million base
-- $1 million bonus if completes 100 innings
-- $2 million additional bonus if completes 150 innings (so Twins will be in for a total of $4 million if he can pitch 150 innings)
-- $1 million additional bonus if completes 175 innings.
-- $1 million bonus for each playoff game that he is starter (which could be $6 million of ADDITIONAL dollars if he was Verlandering us into the World Series.

I suspect that the rules stated in MLB's contract with the players' union do not allow this level of incentives. But it seems to me that $1 million is enough if he cannot perform at a decent level for 100 innings. I would also like to see him get $10+ million if he comes back and leads us to a World Series.

Is there some way to capture the essence of this under the MLB/union contract rules?

05-28-2012, 08:43 PM
Reject option and then offer him a 1-2 year contract while simultaneously making offers to Marcum and Edwin Jackson. Sign 2 of the 3 that are deemed the best cost per effectiveness or all 3 if the money is there. We'll have money to spend next year and almost all of it needs to go towards SP and possibly a rightfielder and/or 3B. The bullpen is set for next year even without Capps. Perkins, Burton, Duensing, Burnett, Oliveros, Guerra, Slama, Waldrop, then a long man of Swarzak, Walters, Diamond, Blackburn or whoever might not be in the rotation.