Twins have competition for Scott Baker from Red Sox, Rangers, Cubs, Blue Jays

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Minnesota declined its $9.25 million option on Scott Baker amid reports that the two sides were working on a new deal for a lesser salary, but the Twins have some competition for the 31-year-old right-hander coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery.

Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Rangers have all expressed interest in Baker, who threw 135 innings with a 3.14 ERA in 2011 and has consistently been among the leaders in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Declining his $9.25 million option was a no-brainer for the Twins, but he’s been a solid enough mid-rotation starter in the past that a multi-year deal–probably built around incentives–could be attainable.

Report: Astros extend Justin Verlander for two years, $66 million

Justin Verlander
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The Astros are in agreement with right-hander Justin Verlander on a two-year, $66 million extension, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com was among those to report on Friday. With no money deferred, the $33 million he’ll receive over the next two years will set a record AAV for major-league pitchers; something MLB Network’s Jon Heyman says matters to Verlander, who “cares how his deals affect markets (and fellow players).”

While it’s far from the five-year, $100 million extension teammate Alex Bregman signed with the club on Friday, the deal will give the Astros a bigger window to consider their long-term plans for the ace before he hits free agency again. Prior to Saturday’s agreement, Verlander’s original contract — the hefty seven-year, $180 million arrangement he reached with the Tigers in 2013 — was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

It’s difficult to overestimate the value Verlander has provided to the Astros since they acquired him from the Tigers back in 2017. He was named the 2017 ALCS MVP following seven shutout innings in a must-win Game 6 performance and helped the Astros clinch their first franchise World Series title. In 2018, he earned his seventh career All-Star distinction and received consideration for both AL Cy Young and MVP awards after pitching to a 16-9 record in 34 starts with a 2.52 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, 12.2 SO/9 (the product of a career-high 290 strikeouts), and 6.7 fWAR over 214 innings.

The deal has not been confirmed by the team.