The Minnesota Twins made significant efforts to keep right-handed pitcher Scott Baker around for the 2013 season. It appears the interest was not mutual. Baker, who hasn’t pitched a game since August 8 of 2011, signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs worth a reported $5.5M and $1.5M in incentives, as well as an option year.
The news comes as a surprise and with disappointment. The Twins have struggled tremendously with their starting pitcher rotation pretty much ever since Johan Santana was traded to the Mets before he had the chance to flee in free agency. After Santana’s departure, many within the organization hoped Baker could become the new ace for the Twins. While he showed glimpses of being a number one guy, injuries and inconsistencies kept him from ever reaching the potential that many hoped to see from him.
Last April, Baker had Tommy John surgery to strengthen the ulnar collateral ligament in his right throwing elbow. He missed the entire 2012 season, the last year of his contract with the Twins. Baker went 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA in 163 games with the Twins, who drafted him in the the second round of the amateur draft in 2003. In 2011, Baker went 8-6 with a career-best 3.14 ERA. Now Twins fans will have to watch from a distance to see if Baker ever reaches his potential to be a number one starter. It’s not just the fans that are disappointed either.
“I’m disappointed,” general manager Terry Ryan said. “But when players get to free agency, they have choices to make. I like Scott and I like his family, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Baker may have never lived up to what he showed in glimpses that he could be, but he was a consistent force in an otherwise shaky rotation. He may have never deserved the nickname Big Spot Scott, given to him haphazardly in the ALDS in a game against the Yankees that feels like decades ago now, but he was a starter the Twins needed this year to bounce back from another dreadful season. Unfortunately, that won’t happen. Baker moves on to the Cubs, joining another former Twins ace-hopeful, Matt Garza.
What else is there to say? Terry Ryan probably summed it up best:
“We tried to get Scott Baker. “He chose to go to the Cubs.”