Twins reward Baker with four-year deal
Agreement also includes team option for fifth season
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Twins pitcher Scott Baker doesn't get flustered by very much when he's on the mound.But Baker admitted that he thought about asking pitching coach Rick Anderson on Saturday for a "mulligan," to move his start to another day.
"We have a big group that's going to be due [for arbitration] next year," Twins general manager Bill Smith said. "And we started to look and see if there was somebody that stood out as a guy that warranted a multiyear deal. Across the board, he was the one."Drafted by the Twins in the second round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Baker has been one of the most consistent starters for the ballclub over the last two years. The right-hander has gone 20-13 with a 3.81 ERA while throwing a total of 316 innings. Baker holds a career 28-24 record with a 4.23 ERA in 78 appearances for the Twins. "He's come into his own here, and he's become a very good pitcher," Gardenhire said. "One of our starting pitchers is now locked up, and rightfully so." Baker's agent, Bobby Witt, and Twins assistant GM Rob Antony began negotiating the contract just a couple weeks ago, and the deal came together quickly. The Twins have given out a few multiyear contracts to players in recent years, but the majority of those have gone to position players. "For them to do this is definitely a big vote of confidence for me," Baker said. "It's just something they haven't done much in the past." Smith acknowledged that four years is a long contract for a pitcher, considering all of the risks involved, particularly health. But the club felt if anyone was fit for such a deal, it was Baker. "He has made very good progress the last few years," Smith said. "And you know he takes care of his body. He's a good teammate. He's good on the field, good off the field. He's a little bit of a leader among that starting rotation." Baker already is considered one of the hardest workers on the ballclub. He said that work ethic isn't going to let up now that he's got a long-term contract in place. Instead, he believes it can only be a positive -- much like Jason Kubel's recent multiyear deal has had an impact on him this spring. "It's not necessarily what drives me, the big contract," Baker said. "But it does make it a lot easier to go out there and perform." With the contract, Baker gets the security he desired. But considering the record contract numbers being awarded through arbitration in recent seasons, is he worried about the money he might be leaving on the table should he have a huge season? "I don't think in any way I'll regret this decision," Baker said. "If I have great seasons or average seasons, I'm very happy with the decision." Even with Baker signed, the Twins still could have nine arbitration-eligible players this winter: Boof Bonser, Jesse Crain, Carlos Gomez, Matt Guerrier, Brendan Harris, Francisco Liriano, Pat Neshek, Glen Perkins and Delmon Young. Smith was asked whether the club might consider working on multiyear deals for any of those players. "We'll move forward with the rest of the group at the appropriate time," Smith said. "But again, there are a lot of factors that go into it. You have to make sure you have the right player -- from an evaluation standpoint and from a maturity standpoint. There are a lot of other factors. "We haven't been afraid to do it in the past. We've done a number of them. We're open to talking to some other players about that."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.