Cubs Sign Scott Baker

The Cubs just signed Scott Baker, the Out Maker (at least that’s what my Twins fan friend Chris called him when he was pitching good), to a one-year deal for $5.5 million with a potential $1.5 million in performance bonuses.  $5.5 million guaranteed is a lot of money for a 31 year old pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery, but that seems to be the current market.

Actually, I think Baker is a fairly good sign for the Cubs.  Baker knows how to pitch, he throws strikes, and pitchers now come back from TJ surgery, particularly if they aren’t too old.

The biggest knock on Baker pitching half is games at Wrigley is that he’s always given up his share of gopher balls — 1.16 per nine innings over the course of his career.  That comes out to about 26 home runs for every 200 innings pitched, which is lot, and is likely to be even more pitching half his games at Wrigley.  Good thing Baker doesn’t hand out a lot of free passes — which should be a requirement for every Cubs starter.

The second biggest knock on Baker is his inability to stay healthy.  Even before the elbow surgery, he managed to pitch 200 innings in a season only once (exactly 200 in  2009).

mlbtraderumors.com also relays ESPN’s Buster Olney’s opinion that essentially every free agent is trending upward “as the market begins to take shape.”  In other words, teams have paid through the nose for every free agent signed so far, which is pretty terrific for almost every free agent who has yet to sign (there may be a few at the end who lose out on the game of musical chairs).

One player I agree with trending upwards is reliever Jonathan Broxton.  After his 2011 elbow and shoulder problems, he was back in 2012 with the lowest ERA (2.48) of his career.

Broxton’s strike out rate was way down compared his career norms (7.0 per nine IP, compared to his career through 2011 rate of 11.5 per nine IP).  However, his walks rate also improved substantially.

One would think, based on his 2012 season, that Broxton’s 2011 arm problems permanently took something out of his arm, but that it forced him to finally learn how to pitch, instead of just trying to blow it by every hitter he faced.  This is particularly the case when you consider that his 2012 teams (Royals and Reds) play in much better hitters’ parks than his old team the Dodgers (although he pitched much better at home in 2012 than did on the road, as was the case when he was a Dodger).

Broxton’s 2012 could just be an aberration, although his reduced strike out rate suggests something has changed.  Even so, Broxton has clearly re-established himself as at least a top-level set-up man of the Brandon League/Jeremy Affeldt class, and he’s still only 29 in 2013.  As such, and based on League’s and Affeldt’s recent signings, a three-year, $18 million contract seems entirely likely.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, San Francisco Giants

One Comment on “Cubs Sign Scott Baker”

  1. J.J. Bugs Says:

    If I owned a restaurant around Wrigley, I’d be reinforcing my windows right now.


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