Low-risk Baker signing restocks Cubs' inventory

Some would say Scott Baker had a better 2012 than the Cubs. He didn’t make it on the field.
 
Baker experienced elbow pain in spring training and underwent Tommy John surgery in April. Now he’s coming to Chicago to try to help the Cubs while jump-starting his career.

Baker, who became a free agent when the Minnesota Twins declined his $9.25 million option for 2013, signed a one-year deal with the Cubs on Tuesday. He will be doing a media availability this afternoon.

Baker has been a winner (63-48) when healthy but rarely an innings-eater for Minnesota, working 200 innings only once in five seasons as a member of Ron Gardenhire’s rotation. The one thing he does that most appeals to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer is throw strikes, walking only 2.1 hitters per nine innings throughout his career.

This signing is a low-risk move for the Cubs, who need at least two starting pitchers for a rotation that has only Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and, if he’s recovered from elbow problems and isn’t traded in spring training, Matt Garza set for the upcoming season.

With a one-year deal, the Cubs will hope that Baker pitches well in the first half of the season. They would then decide whether to attempt to sign him long term or deal him for young pitching at the July 31 trade deadline. It’s all about inventory, and Baker provides a potentially useful part.
 
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