The Minnesota Twins officially declined RHP Scott Baker‘s club option. The deadline for option decisions is three days after the World Series, and no one is surprised the move was made relatively quickly. Baker and Twins GM Terry Ryan have expressed mutual interest in Baker returning to the Twins, so it seems that terms will be the biggest question. Baker was set to undergo tendon surgery in early April, and woke up to find out the surgery was season-ending Tommy John surgery. While his injury history means the Twins are unlikely to offer Baker big money up front, a more modest salary with significant bonuses and incentives for performance is a more realistic offer. Drafted by the Twins in 2003, it’s the only organization the pitcher has known, and he may appreciate the comfort of the familiar as he tests out his post-surgery arm.
Recently, the news broke that RHP P.J. Walters elected free agency after the Twins outrighted him to the Rochester Redwings last week. In a late breaking report, the Twins and Walters have agreed to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training in 2013:
The #MNTwins agreed to terms with P.J. Walters on a minor league deal with a major league invite.
— Dustin Morse (@Twins_morsecode) October 29, 2012
With only Scott Diamond a lock in the 2013 rotation, Walters has another shot at joining the big club next year. The 27-year-old posted a 5.69 ERA in 61.2 IP in 12 games last year. He has 37 major league appearances in his career, and he has played for the St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays in since his debut in 2009.
Nick Blackburn, who is signed with the Twins through 2013, struggled this year. He ended the season with a 7.39 ERA and a 4-9 record. He is certainly hoping that some bone chips contributed to his struggles.
Also, #MNTwins RH Nick Blackburn had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow last Thursday. Team expects him 100% by spring training.
— JoeChristensen (@JoeCStrib) October 29, 2012
The RH pitcher has never ended a season with an ERA below 4.0 or a won more games than he lost. Blackburn is not currently on the Twins 40-man Roster, but will certainly be pitching for a chance to return as a starter, if his recovery proceeds as expected. Whether the Twins should add him to the roster as 2013 rolls around is certainly a debatable point. If Baker, Blackburn, or Walters end up in the rotation, fans might legitimately question whether the Twins are making changes that will have an impact in 2013 or if the team is simply rearranging the furniture.