While the Chicago Cubs engage trade discussions with the Los Angeles Angels regarding starting pitcher Dan Haren, the Cubs have been linked to another free agent starting pitcher that is available on the market. This time of the free agent variety.
The Chicago Cubs have some degree of interest in former Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Scott Baker. Baker underwent Tommy John surgery in April and the starting pitcher missed the entire 2012 season. Baker is progressing in his rehab but may not be ready for the start of the 2013 season. Baker last pitched in the Major Leagues with the Twins in 2011. With the Twins in 2011, Baker pitched to a record of 8 and 6 while posting an ERA of 3.14.
Baker may not be an attractive free agent starting pitcher, but if healthy, he could provide the same type of value for the Cubs that Paul Maholm had last season before being traded to the Atlanta Braves during the 2012 season. Baker is 31 years of age, and likely will not fit into the Cubs long term plans. However, if Baker is able to successfully return from his Tommy John surgery, the starting pitcher could be a valuable asset for the Cubs at the trade deadline.
There may be some concern over the fact that Baker is returning from having Tommy John surgery. Baker would not be the first starting pitcher to be in the Cubs’ starting rotation in 2013 that would be returning from Tommy John surgery. Remember, Arodys Vizcaino will also be returning from Tommy John surgery he had in Spring Training of 2012. That should not force fans to overlook Baker. The fact that Baker missed the entire 2012 season likely makes him an affordable target for teams looking to improve their starting rotation this winter. Not to mention that the Cubs, more specifically the regime led by Cubs’ President Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer, have shown a willingness to offer second chances to players that are in need of a change of scenery or looking to return to relevancy. Their experiment with third baseman Ian Stewart may have failed, but Baker appears to be a better investment for the Cubs.