March 8, 2009

Twins, Baker agree to extension... Mauer next?

Yesterday, the Minnesota Twins and Scott Baker agreed to a 4-year $15.25 million extension through the 2012 season. The contract also features a 5th-year option worth $9.25 million, which could bring the total amount of the extension to 5-years and $24.5 million.

According to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Baker will make "Baker will make $750,000 this year, then $3 million, $5 million and $6.5 million in 2012. There is no buyout for the option year."

The deal buys out all three of Baker's arbitration years and could buy out his first year of free agency as well. This is a very smart deal for both the Twins and Baker. The Twins not only lock up a potential top-of-the-order starter for 5-years at a very affordable price while Baker gets some added comfort in a new contract after re-establishing himself in the Twins' long-term plans last season.

The 27-year-old Baker was 11-4 with a 3.45 ERA last season while stepping up as the Twins #1 starter after the loss of Johan Santana last off-season. Baker is not thought to be a long-term #1 starter, but even if he is a #3 starter (which is where he projects), an average of $3.8 million over the next four years is still a very good price.

The Twins needed to lock up a few players this off-season instead of potentially having 11 arbitration-eligible players, the Twins now have 9 that look to be heading to arbitration next off-season, which is still a few too many.

The Twins have enough money set aside right now if they were to try opening contract talks with Joe Mauer which is what has been reported. Mauer will be a free agent after the 2010 season and is expected to make upwards of $20 million per season.