Monday, September 6, 2010

Offseason Trade Targets for Pitching (2 in a series) - Scott Baker

Continuing on in this series after I discussed James Shields, I would like to take a look at Scott Baker of the Minnesota Twins.

In 2011, the massive contract extension for Joe Mauer kicks in and takes his salary from $12.5M to $23M. The Twins also have Morneau ($15M), Joe Nathan ($11.25M) and Cuddyer ($10.5M) as big money contracts. As of now, the Twins have $72M in committments after having a payroll of $97M this year. And that doesn't include the following players either entering arbitration or in their arbitration years:
  • Matt Capps (arb-3, $3.5M in 2010)
  • Delmon Young (arb-2, $2.6M in 2010)
  • Francisco Liriano (arb-2, $1.6M in 2010)
  • Kevin Slowey (arb-1, $470K in 2010)

Plus there is a $5.25M club option for Jason Kubel.

In short, the Twins will be right up against the $100M threshold just trying to keep their existing players, let alone freeing up money for free agents. They may need to move a salary in order to find the extra cash and keep payroll flexibility. One of those players could be Scott Baker.

Scott Baker, 6-4/220, RHP, age-29 in 2011 season

Contract: $5M in 2011, $6.5M in 2012, $9.25M club option in 2013

In 2010, Baker has a 7.41 K/9, 2.13 BB/9, and a 36.6% ground ball rate, so he is a flyball pitcher. His arsenal consists of a 91 mph fastball, a 84 mph slider, and a 81 mph curve, with a 83 mph change sprinkled in. Historically, his slider has been his best out pitch.

The Twins may be the most conservative organization in baseball, especially when it comes to pitching. They value the "floor" of a prospect way more than "ceiling" and frequently select low to mid-upside college pitching early in the draft. Because of these tendencies, the Twins may find Rudy Owens very appealing in a potential trade package. Owens is pretty much assured of being able to pitch in the majors, but may not have more upside than a #3 or #4. But he will be cheap, which is a valuable commodity for the Twins in the near future.

As for the trade package, Owens, Evan Chambers, and Brian Friday may be enticing enough for the Twins to part with Baker.

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