A little while ago I did some prognosticating for ESPN, guessing the types of moves the Tribe would make to round out the club’s veteran-laden roster. In a nutshell, I wrote: “The Indians’ modus operandi  has been to extend the organization’s net as wide as possible in the bargain bin, hoping to unearth a few solid performances – perhaps even getting lucky with a career season or two – out of the mixture of buy-low candidates.”

And while I was roundly hammered for suggesting the franchise bring back Travis Hafner on a minor league deal (I should have noted that Hafner has hit incredibly well in the opening month or two in each of the last three seasons), I did briefly mention former Minnesota and Chicago hurler Scott Baker as a potential low risk/high upside deal.

Reports surfaced over the weekend that the Indians and Mariners are “emerging as favorites” to land the veteran right-hander. Well, it does make sense…

The Indians have four spots locked up in the rotation – Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister. Along with recently signed Shaun Marcum, the club also has several in-house candidates as well (Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin, and Trevor Bauer).

But let’s be honest here, the latter four are far from sure bets. While I liked the Marcum deal quite a bit, he’s coming off of surgery; Carrasco, who’s blessed with the talent to be a #3-type arm, has only flashed that ability in sporadic moments; Tomlin’s coming off of TJ surgery and has averaged under five strikeouts per nine innings in his big league career; and, well, Bauer looked like a wreck last season.

So why not continue to stock pile arms?

Baker, who himself had Tommy John surgery in late 2012, has the type of pedigree that would be useful for the Indians: a former mid-rotation arm with fantastic peripherals (7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9). He’s going to be 32-years-old and should have a few more years of useful production left (assuming he’s healthy). The lone red flag, however, is that his fastball was down three miles-per-hour during his three-game stint in Chicago in September.

But Baker was never the type of guy to rely heavily on missing bats. He was more about finesse and guile. And while the drop in velocity is alarming, it isn’t completely damning.

While he’s hunting for a Major League deal he’s not likely going to get it. And for the low cost of a few hundred thousand dollars, this potential move makes all kinds of sense.

Here’s hoping the Tribe wins out on this deal.



  • medfest says:

    The Indians have a pretty good track record of resurrecting rehabbing pitchers careers going back to Bobby Howry and Scot Elarton,so it makes a lot of sense for Baker to kick the tires on a move to Tribesville.

  • shaun says:

    at 32, i’ll take control over velocity..

  • Gvl Steve says:

    Scott Baker would be a solid low-risk high-reward move akin to Kazmir and Millwood in years past. In addition to the question marks surrounding other rotation candidates, I would add that Kluber and McAllister are not sure things in light of their finger injuries and possible inability to throw their breaking balls going forward.

  • leo O'Neill says:

    I’d rather see Baker in than McAllister. Unless he learns how to get past the 6th inning, he’s always going to be a drain on the bullpen.

  • Joe says:

    Cleveland’s staff is the opposite of their position players. Their staff is full of underachievers, guys who are almost all average or above, but who tend to under-perform. I love the names in our rotation and the guys who are fighting to get on it. There is no reason to think any given year couldn’t be like 2009 with CC and Fausto. There are a lot of good arms, and just from a betting standpoint you have to believe 2 of those 8 could have fantastic years. I’m more worried about our position players overachieving again this year.