5:41pm ET: Baker will earn $1.5M at the big league level, reports Jon Heyman. That’s standard “scrap heap guy who used to be good” pay.
3:00pm ET: According to Matt Eddy, the Yankees have signed veteran right-hander Scott Baker to a minor league contract. I assume he received an invitation to Spring Training. The team should be announcing their Spring Training invitees very soon anyway, possibly later today.
Baker, 33, was the designated “soak up innings and take a beating when we need someone to do it” guy for the injury riddled Rangers last year. He had a 5.47 ERA (4.78 FIP) with a great walk rate (1.56 BB/9 and 4.2 BB%) but a below-average strikeout rate (6.14 K/9 and 16.6 K%) and a microscopic ground ball rate (25.3%) in 80.2 swingman innings for Texas.
At his best with the Twins from 2007-11, Baker had a 3.98 ERA (3.86 FIP) with a few strikeouts (7.41 BB/9 and 19.8 K%) and fewer walks (2.13 BB/9 and 5.7 BB%). He’s always been a big time fly ball pitcher (34.1% grounders from 2007-11) and these last two years he’s been incredibly homer prone (1.69 HR/9 and 25.7 HR/FB%).
Baker had Tommy John surgery in April 2012 and didn’t get back on a mound until July 2013 due to setbacks and complications. Last year he worked with an upper-80s sinker, a low-80s slider, and a low-80s changeup according to PitchFX. He’s definitely not a great fit for Yankee Stadium given his extreme fly ball tendencies and inability to miss bats.
The Yankees obviously need rotation depth because Masahiro Tanaka (elbow), Michael Pineda (shoulder), and CC Sabathia (knee) all carry injury concerns. Baker isn’t very good, but it is only a minor league contract, so there’s no real risk. He’s not even guaranteed to make it through camp and head to Triple-A. Baker might opt to purse an opportunity elsewhere if he doesn’t make the team.