Scott Baker from the Cubs could generate interest
Despite flying under the radar in Minnesota, right-hander starter Scott Baker had a five-year run of excellence from 2007-2011 that rivaled many of the best pitchers in baseball. Across that half decade, Baker’s 3.86 FIP (fielding independent pitching) and 3.48 strikeout-to-walk ratio was matched or exceeded by just nine starters with at least 800 innings pitched, per Baseball-Reference (subscription required).
Those nine names: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke, CC Sabathia, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett, Cole Hamels, Javier Vazquez and James Shields.
After pitching well for the Triple-A affiliate of the Rangers, Baker has an opt-out clause that can be used Thursday if the Rangers don’t summon him to Texas, per Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. As Cotillo notes in his tweet, teams are interested in the 32-year-old.
While injuries have halted a trajectory that had Baker poised for fame, a difference-making starter could be about to hit the open market.
Hanrahan signed by the Tigers
Former closer Joel Hanrahan was on display for all 20 teams coming to see and evaluate the former closer. According to many Hanrahan delivered and many in attendance were pleased with his pitching velocity and quality of his pitches. After being courted by many teams Hanrahan signed with the Detroit Tigers. The 32-year-old came out strong and hit 93 mph on the gun, which is extremely impressive considering that he’s just under one year removed from Tommy John Surgery. When aske if he was surprised of his somewhat speedy recovery Hanrahan declared this:
“No, not really,” the confident veteran said. “I put in the hard work while everyone else was playing this summer. I was going to rehab every day five times a week at 8:00 in the morning. That was my season. I’ve still got a bit of work to do here. Hopefully when they put a hitter in the box and I get some adrenaline going, the velocity will be there. I’ve always been a velocity type guy with a bit of the breaking ball.”
While Hanrahan is a very notable addition and one that could help fortify a Tigers bullpen that struggled in 2013, there is another notable name that the club has been linked to heavily over the past few months in Stephen Drew. When asked if there could be addition room for another major league free agent this season, Dombrowski said such a move wasn’t in the works but didn’t exactly shut the door.
“Our owner has always been generous but we’re not in a spot to do that necessarily. We’ve made some moves with our club through trades, Andrew Romine has done a good job for us at shortstop, that was one area of need we had…” the GM said. “The area we wanted to address most was our bullpen if we had the opportunity to.”
As for Hanrahan, both the pitcher and Dombrowski emphasized that there will be no clear timetable for his Tigers major league debut. Hanrahan wouldn’t guarantee that he’ll be on the mound for Detroit in the next 30 days and the GM said his minor league warmup will be “sort of a Spring Training,” so it sounds like there’s little, if any, pressure on the reliever to rush himself back. Hanrahan is extremely eager to getting back to what he does best but won’t take any chances to expedite the process.
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