Twins Not Interested in Scott Baker and That's Okay

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Message received: the organization is happy with their current depth at starting pitcher.

It was revealed on Sunday afternoon that the Twins were approached regarding Scott Baker, to see if the team had any interest in bringing back yet another familiar face. Baker's opt-out date with the Rangers, where he's currently pitching for their Triple-A affiliate, is May 1. But it doesn't look like Minnesota is interested.

In four starts for the Round Rock Express this spring, Baker has thrown 26 inning across four starts while striking out 21% of batters (21 strikeouts) and walking just 6% of batters (6 free passes), with three of his 22 hits allowed leaving the park. It's not a bad line by any means, although his FIP (4.45) undermines his ERA (2.77).

But the real question is: do the Twins have five guys at Triple-A (or even at the Major League level) who are better than Baker? It's hard to compare Triple-A number for a veteran like Baker to numbers against Major League hitters, but we can certainly look at Rochester's rotation. Here's how the Red Wings' starters have fared so far this year.

Scott Diamond, 5 Starts
40-Man Roster: No

Diamond has been lit up in four of his five starts, and has started the season with a 10.35 ERA in 20 innings. He's allowed an astonishing 41 hits, although only one has been for a home run for what that's worth. He's allowing two and a half base runners per inning.

Trevor May, 4 Starts
40-Man Roster: Yes

May has traded strong and poor starts, pitching well on April 8th and April 20th, but getting burned on the 14th and 25th. Control continues to be an issue, but it's always exciting to see the numbers he puts up from game to game.

Alex Meyer, 4 Starts
40-Man Roster: No

24 strikeouts in 20.2 innings, allowing 17 hits and a pair of homers. He'll take a rotation spot sometime in June, at the latest.

Logan Darnell, 4 Starts
40-Man Roster: Yes

Darnell has rewarded the organization's faith in adding him to the 40-man roster by suffocating Triple-A offenses, allowing just 15 hits and four earned runs in 21.1 innings. He's even struck out 21 batters and is averaging just one base runner per inning.

Kris Johnson, 4 Starts
40-Man Roster: Yes

Johnson has pitched pretty well in all four of his starts, as even when he allowed four runs in six innings against Syracuse he struck out eight batters. He's inducing plenty of ground balls and is suppressing base runners, which means teams are also having a hard time getting sustained rallies going against him.

Yohan Pino, 2 Starts
40-Man Roster: No

Pino has the flexibility to start when Gene Glynn needs him to, and he's done that in addition to making four relief appearances. Overall he has a 1.17 ERA but as a starter it shrinks to 0.82 in 11 innings.

Conclusions

Baker is not on the Rangers' 40-man roster, which means that trading for him - or signing him should he opt out of his deal - wouldn't require the Twins to give him a 40-man roster spot, either. The question, though, is how happy Baker would be with that situation. If he's going to opt out of a contract and a guaranteed minor league job, he's probably looking for a chance to pitch in the majors. Which is probably why the Twins were contacted.

If Baker wasn't going to push for a 40-man roster spot right away, then giving Diamond's spot to Baker seems like a no-brainer. But if he wanted a roster spot, then Minnesota would need to find one, and May, Darnell, and Johnson are either A) a part of the team's future, B) pitching too well to take the roster spot from them, or C) all of the above. So the team would need to look elsewhere to cut a player from the 40-man, and for a player whom may or may not work his way up the organization's starting pitcher depth chart.

As things sit, while the Twins may not have a great deal of talent in the rotation they do have depth. Beyond the starting five of Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Kevin Correia, and Mike Pelfrey, Samuel Deduno is waiting in the bullpen. In Triple-A, you know that the Twins will be giving opportunities to Meyer and May when they're available, and Darnell is jockeying for a spot as a lefty-handed option.

Baker, if he came to Minnesota, would still be fifth in line for a rotation spot. And no doubt that's probably not as acceptable of a situation to him as it may have appeared at first glance.

I wish Baker good luck. If the Twins hadn't signed a guy like Pelfrey, or had less minor league depth at starting pitcher, then I'd absolutely be for bringing him in. But for a guy looking for opportunities he's not likely to find them here, and so it's best if he looks elsewhere - and the Twins will be just fine without him.

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