Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer bolstered the Cubs with a couple of mid-level free agent signings, adding pitcher Scott Baker and catcher Dioner Navarro to the team. Baker had spent his entire seven year career with the Minnesota Twins before missing 2012 with an injury. Navarro, an All-Star with Tampa Bay in 2008, bounced around the minor league affiliates of the Cincinnati Reds last season, while also seeing Major League action in 24 games.
Baker's one year, $5.5 million contract is very similar to the one which Paul Maholm signed last year, as they were both full of bonus incentives. The right hander compiled a 63-48 record with the Twins, posting a 4.15 ERA. He has been a solid middle of the rotation guy during his career, and could be the No. 3 or No. 4 pitcher for Chicago if he recover from his elbow surgery.
"I truly believe if you put the work in and prepare yourself for every start, that's the best you can do," Baker said. "Once you go out there and you are fully prepared then it's about executing pitches. If I can execute pitches then I can be a very productive pitcher and give this team a chance to win some ballgames."
Epstein sees no reason why Baker can't contribute to the team right away.
"Obviously there are no certainties on rehabs, but we spent quite a bit of time on the medical and on the rehab, and it was described by our staff as an ideal Tommy John rehab so far," Epstein said to ESPN. "Knock on wood. Everything has gone perfectly so far, and he has really attacked it in an ideal manner. He has been sort of very curious about the nature of the rehab, the nature of the surgery. He spent some time to figure out different things he can do to put himself in good position."
Navarro figures to be the backup catcher for the team. He adds some solid experience to the role, and he can still be formidable when called upon to give the starter the day off. Wellington Castillo and Steve Clevenger are expected to battle it out for the starting job this offseason.
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