The Cubs believe improved pitching depth will help prevent the on-field product from turning into Triple-A Iowa East.
Scott Baker is supposed to be one of the reinforcements, someone who should help delay the countdown toward 100 losses after another fire sale. The veteran right-hander could also emerge as a piece for 2014.
Baker is scheduled to fly from Arizona to Chicago and throw a bullpen session at Wrigley Field on Thursday. That will determine the next steps in his recovery from Tommy John surgery. He could soon begin a rehab assignment at Class-A Kane County, which might put him in the big-league rotation by late August.
Baker, who will turn 32 in September, missed the entire 2012 season, but he still got $5.5 million guaranteed in a one-year deal. To that point, he had spent his entire career with the Minnesota Twins, going 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA while working almost exclusively as a starter.
The Cubs appreciate Baker’s serious, professional attitude, as well as the stuff that made him a key part of some contending teams in Minnesota. This front office is willing to do another deal with Baker.
“It’s something that we’ve certainly talked about,” general manager Jed Hoyer said. “He’s a fantastic person and a really good teammate. (When) he had the setback in spring training, he was apologetic to us and we felt worse for him.
“Not to get ahead of ourselves – we’ll see how things go – but he’s certainly the kind of guy you like to have in the organization, for sure.”