the club announced the new members of their coaching staff and the readjustment of the men that were left after the firing frenzy. Phil Mackey from 1500 ESPN has the complete rundown of some of the items discussed by the organization but one of the most interesting items might be the fact the team is looking to add three starting pitchers in the coming months. These pitchers could join the Twins in a couple of different ways including trades and free agency but the team knows this is a weak point for the club.
One intriguing option for the Twins is a man that could already be under contract for 2013. Scott Baker injured his elbow during last year's spring training and he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. The Twins hold a $9 million option on Baker but there doesn't seem to be much of a chance of the club exercising that option. This would leave Baker as a free agent when he is still recovering from the surgery he had seven months ago. There could be other team's interested in Baker but the 31-year old right-hander has only known the Twins organization and this could play to his favor.
At the end of the season, Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire spoke to season ticket holders in a conference call to answer a bunch of different questions about the organization. The topic of Baker came up in one of the questions and Ryan had very positive things to say about the pitcher. His rehab was progressing well at the time and he called him "one of the good guys" for the organization. This could be a good sign of things to come with Baker and it seem like a strong relationship exists between the pitcher and the general manager.
This isn't the only sign from the front office about the pending return of Baker to the Twins for 2013. Reports out yesterday have Ryan saying the Twins would like to keep Baker around for next season. With the very good chance of the Twins turning down Baker's option year, this would mean the team would be free to work out an incentive-laden contract for the future. It would also be nice if the team could include a reasonable option for 2014 for the chance Baker performs better than expectations on his way back from elbow surgery.
The most recent medical reports have Baker on track to be ready to pitch in game action by the time the Twins are in spring training. This is great news for Baker but one would have to wonder if he will be on some kind of innings limit for next year. He has only reached the 200 innings mark in one previous season so some of the innings limit might take care of itself with time spent on the disabled list. When pitchers are in their first season back from a major surgery, there can be a few bumps along the way. For example, Joe Nathan spent a little bit of time on the DL in his first year back with the Twins. From the Twins point of view, they already have Kyle Gibson working his way back from Tommy John surgery so it might not be ideal to have two recovering pitchers on track to be part of next year's rotation.
In the last season Baker spent on the mound for Minnesota, he got off to the best start of his career. He went 7-5 in the first half of 2011 with a 3.01 ERA and he was on pace to throw over 200 innings. Injuries forced him to the sidelines for much of the second half of the season and he would only make four more starts during that time. Even with his limited action down the stretch, he would still lead the pitching staff in WAR for the entire season. In his last three full seasons with the Twins, he has averaged 13 wins a year with 181 innings pitched and a 4.11 ERA. If Baker was able to reproduce these results in 2013, he would be a very welcomed member of the Twins starting rotation.
There are plenty of decisions for the Twins to make in the coming months and Baker will only be a small part of a much larger plan. It's nice to think the Twins would be loyal to a player the organization drafted and developed to see if he can come back strong from a tough injury. Baseball is a business though and the Twins have been at the wrong end of the American League for two consecutive seasons. Loyalty to players might have to be thrown out the window if the Twins want to get back to the top. The comeback story of Baker would be great to follow in 2012 but only if the team can work out an appropriate contract for the team and the player.