The Yankees have signed right-hander Scott Baker to a minor-league contract, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The deal will be worth $1.5 million if he makes the roster. The Texas Rangers signed him to a minor-league deal last year and he finished the 2014 season with a 5.47 ERA in 25 games (eight starts). He had a 3.60 ERA after only making three starts for the Chicago Cubs in 2013.
Baker, who is 33 and went to Oklahoma State University, is entering his 10th season after having some success as a mid to end of rotation starter during his first seven seasons of his career with the Minnesota Twins from 2005-2011. In 2009, he had a career-highs of 15 wins, 33 starts and 162 strikeouts, while having a high 4.37 ERA. His previous season was much better as he allowed 66 earned runs (31 less than 2009), had a 3.45 ERA and allowed eight fewer homers than he did the previous season. From 2007-2011, he went 55-37 with a 3.98 ERA in 821 innings.
In his nine seasons, he has 66 wins, a 4.25 ERA, 170 starts, 21 appearances out of the bullpen, a 1.253 WHIP, 831 strikeouts and 242 walks. Baker hasn’t had much success (or game appearances) the last two seasons after missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery, but this signing makes sense because if the Yankees don’t sign another established starter, he could be used instead of Chris Capuano at the end of the rotation.
Baker has been a good control pitcher throughout his career, finishing in the top 10 in the American League in strikeout-to-walk ratio three times. He has the fourth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the history of the Twins, including their time as the Washington Senators, at 3.438 (behind only Kevin Slowey‘s 4.702, Jim Merritt‘s 3.904 and Johan Santana‘s 3.794).
Through the 2011 season, Baker threw six pitches: a four-seam fastball (89-96mph), a two-seam fastball (88-93mph), a cut fastball (mid 80s), a slider (low 80s), a curveball (79-81mph) and a changeup (low 80s). Since pitching in 2013 with the Cubs, his average fastball velocity has dropped into the high 80s and he has used his curveball much less frequently. In 2014, he relied primarily on his four-seam fastball (91mph), slider (82mph), sinker (90mph), and sinker (90mph).