Two months ago Scott Baker said he’d like to remain in Minnesota after missing this season following Tommy John elbow surgery and yesterday during a radio interview with 1500-ESPN general manager Terry Ryan made it clear that the Twins are interested in keeping him around.
Baker has a $9 million option for 2013 that’s certain to be declined, making the 31-year-old right-hander a free agent, but Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the two sides are “working now on a new deal” and talked to a team source who says re-signing Baker is a “high priority.”
An incentive-laden one-year deal would make sense given that Baker is no sure thing to be ready by Opening Day and the Twins are basically rebuilding their entire rotation. When healthy he’s been a solid mid-rotation starter, posting a 3.98 ERA in 821 innings since 2007 while consistently ranking among the league leaders in strikeout-to-walk ratio, but even before the surgery his durability was often in question.
Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.
Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.
Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.
Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.
Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.