The Chicago White Sox are in desperate in need of starting pitching depth. Over the past two weeks, they have lost ace Chris Sale and Felipe Paulino to injury and Erik Johnson has been demoted.
Three-fifths of the opening day starting rotation is not on the roster at the moment. Twenty-nine-year-old Scott Carroll and Andre Rienzo have been called up to accumulate some spot starts. While both have been impressive in their three combined starts, they both are question marks moving forward. With teams not likely to deal starting pitchers at this point in time, the Sox have had to turn to the free-agency pool to add more arms to the organization. Former Atlanta Braves top prospect Tommy Hanson was signed a few weeks back.
Without many viable options in the system, it has become a necessity for the Sox to add guys that are categorized as veterans trying to prove himself. They might be adding former Minnesota Twins ace Scott Baker to the list.
Reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Sox are interested in Baker. He is coming off a season where he made only three starts for the Chicago Cubs due to an elbow injury. The righty has only made 26 starts since the end of 2010 while missing the entire 2012 season due to another problem with his elbow. During this past offseason, Baker did not receive many calls because teams were afraid that he would be put on the shelf again.
The starter is not a free agent quite yet. He is actually signed with the Texas Rangers and is currently is Triple-A Round Rock. Down there, Baker has accumulated an 2.81 ERA with a 7.3 K/9 in 32 innings. As part of the contract he signed before the season, there is an opt-out clause that ends May 1. It is expected that Baker will exercise that clause if he does not receive a promotion by the deadline. With the Rangers’ rotation intact for now, it does not appear like Baker will be on their big-league roster in the foreseeable future. If he does choose to pursue free agency, the Sox should swoop him up.
Even with his injury history, the Sox should take a flier on Baker. With seven years of experience in the AL Central, the Oklahoma State University product is used to pitching at those stadiums, especially U.S. Cellular Field. Also, a team cannot have too much pitching. Baker could be a cheap option to eat up innings when the team’s young guns need to skip a start. Especially with a number of starters either in their first couple of seasons or injury prone, the Sox will need options to spell them for a start or two down the road. The Sox would not be looking to Baker to be a savior — just better than Felipe Paulino — which should not be hard. For the cost it would take to sign Baker, it would not hurt to give him a go.