Twins pick Scott Baker as fifth starter, send Kevin Slowey to bullpen

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By re-signing Carl Pavano to a two-year, $16.5 million deal the Twins created a rotation logjam with six starters for five spots and today they announced that Scott Baker will be the No. 5 guy, leaving Kevin Slowey bullpen bound as the odd man out.

Baker and Slowey both significantly out-performed Nick Blackburn last season and have similar, if not superior, career marks, yet manager Ron Gardenhire awarded Blackburn his rotation spot weeks ago. As for Baker getting the nod over Slowey, that’s definitely not a surprise.

Not only was Baker the Opening Day starter last season, he’s been a full-time member of the Twins’ rotation since 2007 while posting an ERA below 4.50 in each of those seasons. Oh, and he’s also owed $11.5 million for this season and next, whereas Slowey will get $2.7 million this year with no long-term commitment from the Twins.

All of which isn’t to say Slowey deserves a demotion to the bullpen. He hasn’t been very durable in three full seasons with the Twins, tossing a career-high 160 innings in 2008, but a 4.42 ERA in 82 career starts makes him a perfectly solid mid-rotation guy. There’s been speculation about the Twins souring on Slowey on and off the field for a while now, and my sense is that they’d love to trade him for an impact reliever. In the meantime they’ll hope he can contribute out of the bullpen while serving as insurance should injuries strike or Blackburn bomb again.

Brewers are interested in Jake Arrieta

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that the Brewers may be interested in Jake Arrieta.

The Brewers could definitely use a front line starter, especially with Jimmy Nelson slated to miss a good chunk of next season due to a rotator cuff injury. Arrieta will be expensive, obviously, but the Brewers have a lot more payroll flexibility than most teams, with only minimal money due on long term contracts. Most of that is for Ryan Braun, but even the outlay for him is reasonable, with deferred money involved. Tom Haudricourt of the Journal-Sentinel laid all of that out back in October.

Milwaukee had a surprisingly good 2017 and they have the ability to add in free agency or to take on salary in trades if they want to. Maybe they don’t get Arrieta but they could make a splash this offseason.