CINCINNATI – The Cubs are making room for Scott Baker in their September rotation, though at this point it’s unclear how he fits into their plans for 2014.
Manager Dale Sveum confirmed Baker is getting a second start as he continues his long road back from Tommy John surgery. The Cubs had hoped to get more out of this $5.5 million investment, with team president Theo Epstein opening the door for a longer-term contract when Baker signed a one-year deal last November. General manager Jed Hoyer acknowledged the two sides had discussed that possibility this summer.
“Those decisions are obviously up to Jed and Theo,” Sveum said Monday at Great American Ball Park. “We’ll evaluate some more and look at things that went well and get to the winter. Starting pitching’s always a priority – (so is) depth – (but) you still wait and see what happens.”
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Sveum said Baker felt only normal next-day soreness after throwing five shutout innings in Sunday’s 3-1 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field. That marked Baker’s first big-league game since Sept. 24, 2011. (It also came after Sveum had said there were no plans to add Baker to the rotation.)
Baker – who will turn 32 next week – had been a solid mid-rotation piece for some good Minnesota Twins teams (63-48, 4.15 ERA).
Pitching has been the No. 1 priority since Epstein and Hoyer took over at Clark and Addison in the fall of 2011. Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson should anchor next year’s rotation, with Jake Arrieta, Chris Rusin, Carlos Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks creating depth.
This front office has also been good at identifying mid-range free agents like Paul Maholm and Scott Feldman. Cubs executives will target more arms this winter.
Baker should be willing to listen. As he said about his future: “Beggars can’t be choosers.”