The Cubs have signed RHP Scott Baker for $5.5M, plus $1.5M in incentives. He became a free agent after the Twins declined his $9.5M option for 2013.
The Good: Baker will be playing his age 31 season and has a career 63-48 record and 3.44 K/BB ratio. His career rates are: 7.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 1.2 HR/9. He only costs $5.5M in guaranteed money which is pretty cheap for a starter that threw 170-200 innings in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The Bad: Baker is coming off "surprise" Tommy John surgery last April. He also missed time in 2011. His ERA+ for his career is just 102.
The Judgement: While most pitchers are back on the mound a year later or less after Tommy John surgery, it's my personal and casual observation that it takes a good 2-3 months after that for the pitcher to regain their full control and consistency. We may see some flashes of his old self, but I don't know if we'll see it start after start at the beginning of the season. And if they are attempting another Paul Maholm signing to try and flip him at the deadline, a good first half is a key part of that successful equation. Also, he's pretty damn mediocre before the injury (ERA+ starting from 2007: 101, 122, 100, 91, 129). It's not a lot of money, but this seems more like pitching depth than any type of solid foundation. Regardless of the Cubs likelihood to not be very competitive in 2013, I don't think it's wise to make unwise decisions. Sure the risk is moderate, but it's hard to see where the upside is any greater in this case. And while the Cubs new regime may have their moments of brilliance, they've also misfired on their evaluations as well (points and laughs at picture of Chris Volstad). So ultimately it's a big old shrug of the shoulders on this one for me.