The Payoff Pitch
The FCP Blog
One of the most used phrases of the Major League Baseball hot stove season is “Low Risk, High Reward”. It is the term used when a team signs a player with a decent track record to a low cost deal. The hope is that the particular player can find his once above average production while paying him based on his poor season or poor health.
In the winter, we like these types of signings. Like Spring Training, the winter is filled with hope. Everything can work out just perfectly. We applaud the General Managers for having the foresight and fortitude to take these chances. When they work out, the GM looks like a genius. Billy Beane hit every one of his signings right last year. The result was a cheap payroll that won the division.
Theo Epstein is always linked to this approach. His organization made a similar type of deal when it signed 31 year old right hander Scott Baker to a one year, $5 million contract with some performance bonuses built in. In seven Major League seasons, Baker has compiled a 4.15 ERA, 9.3 H/9, 1.2 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9, 7.2 K/9, and a 3.95 FIP in 958 career innings.
Baker missed the entire 2012 season rehabbing from Tommy John Surgery. He is going to be ready for Spring Training and the hope is that Baker will be able to break camp with the club and resume being a dependable, slightly above average pitcher. The Cubs are more likely hoping that Baker can prove he is back and become a trade chip for the rebuilding organization.
The move is a solid transaction and Baker should benefit from the move to the National League, assuming he is healthy. But, to portray this as a complete steal for the Cubs just is inaccurate. The season after Tommy John Surgery is unpredictable at best. Baker was a slightly above average pitcher before the surgery. There is no upside really other having a solid pitcher if he can be healthy and having someone to trade if his value is high enough. The signing will get more attention because Theo Epstein is involved, but this, at best, is a solid move, which is more than enough for Cubs.