Mariner Newcomer Scott Baker: Instant Take

1024px-0923_028c_Scott_Baker== Cheap Minor-League Deal ==

Scott Baker has only pitched in three major league games since 2011, so he wasn’t in a position to demand a lot, but getting him for a minor-league deal that maxes out at $4.25M — good deal.

The “minor league” part means the M’s don’t have to open a spot on their 40-man roster unless and until he makes the team.  So they can keep their powder dry and don’t have to give up a player right now (as they did with Carlos Peguero to make room for John Buck) (though no tears are shed at MB HQ over that one, of course).

The $4.25M part might give them some extra room for a position player or a bullpen guy.

== Is this Joe Saunders/Aaron Harang/Jeremy Bonderman Deja Vu? ==

Maybe.  We don’t know what Baker has left.

But in 2013, with Taijuan Walker not ready, James Paxton struggling and Danny Hultzen injured, there was no youth movement to shore up the retreads.  Brandon Maurer imploded. Blake Beavan and Hector Noesi were, well, you know.  Erasmo Ramirez had half a season and never got it going.

So, with Walker and Paxton seemingly set, a Baker flop will be less damaging than last year’s collective veteran face-plant.

== Is 2008-2011 Baker Worth Having? ==

Definitely.  In that four-year stretch, Baker was particularly good at limiting walks (never more than 2.3 BB/9 or 6.0% in per-batter-faced terms), and had a tidy strikeout rate as well (7.6 K/9 or 20.5% in per-BF terms).

His downside was HR% (1.1 HR/9 or 3.1%).  But, as our pal Gordon Gross has already pointed out, Jason Vargas ate bunchloads of innings in Seattle with that kind of rate, and struck out a lot fewer than Baker was doing.

So, as cheap No. 3, the 2008-11 version of Baker fits the bill nicely.

== What are the Chances of 2008-11 Baker Showing Up? ==

We don’t know much, other than he passed a physical, and that, in his brief comeback attempt with the Cubs last year, his max velocity was down a couple mph from his pre-injury record.  That’s not that unusual for it to take some extra time for full velocity to come back.

But he won’t have to whiff 7 per 9 to reach Vargas levels (who never busted the 6.0 mark in Seattle), and maybe if the park holds a few more of his fly balls, he won’t need quite as much firepower.

== Does This Mean No Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana? ==

I would have to think so, yes.

This is a sign that those guys weren’t going to come down to their price point.

So …

Given all that, Baker is virtually risk-free.  Even if he make the team and then craters … the consequences are hardly Carlos Silva-esque.

Can’t complain about this one really.


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