The Chicago Cubs off-season will not be sexy. While most Major League Baseball teams are seeking the pricey holiday presents such as Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke or B.J. Upton, the Cubs on the other hand, prefer the inexpensive stocking stuffers. Stuffers like the players the Cubs signed last off-season in outfielder David DeJesus or starting pitcher Paul Maholm. These players are players that are no longer wanted by their former team, looking to bounce back from an injury, or simply of the lesser known variety.
Those are the type of players that the Cubs are looking for when trying to fill several of their holes this winter. The Cubs are in the market for at least two starting pitchers, an outfielder, and a veteran backup catcher as well. On Tuesday, the Cubs began to fill one of their holes on their roster.
Multiple reports confirmed on Tuesday that the Chicago Cubs have signed free agent starting pitcher Scott Baker. Wait, Who? Baker is a seven year veteran that is formerly of the Minnesota Twins. In 2013, Baker will be returning from Tommy John Surgery that he had done in April. For that reason, the last time that Baker took the mound in a Major League Baseball game was in 2011. Baker appeared in 23 games with the Twins in 2011 while making 21 starts. Baker dealt with injuries during the 2011 season suffering from an elbow strain but posted an ERA of 3.14 while going 8 and 6 on the season.
Baker’s contract with the Cubs is for one year and is worth $5.5 million. The deal includes incentives which could elevate the amount of money that Baker can earn during the 2013 season. The Cubs currently have Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, and by all accounts, Arodys Vizcaino penciled into their starting rotation for 2013. Baker figures to be the newest addition to the Cubs’ starting rotation, and will likely serve as the Cubs #3 or #4 starter. The Cubs made a solid investment on Baker and the idea that he will return fully recovered from the Tommy John Surgery that he had done in April. Baker has a career ERA of 4.15 in his seven seasons in the American League, and that figures to improve with the move to the National League.
This signing comes nearly a week after the Cubs failed trade attempt that would have sent Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels for starting pitcher Dan Haren. Haren, much like Baker, has been injury prone of late and that is reason why the Cubs pulled out of the trade. Had the Cubs acquired Haren, the team likely would have looked to move him by the July 31 trade deadline next season. The idea being that the Cubs would be able to cash in on a productive first half of the season from Haren. That same strategy will now be in place for Baker, who the Cubs will likely look to spin to another team for long term assets at some point during the 2013 season.