Mariners attract Scott Baker, part with Peguero

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.comJanuary 30, 2014 

Does right-hander Scott Baker, almost two years removed from Tommy John surgery, solve the Mariners’ search for a veteran starting pitcher to slot in the middle of their rotation?

“He’s been a successful major league pitcher,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said. “He had a run there where he was pretty good. Coming off the injury, you’re hoping that he has a bounce-back year.

“We’re going to give him every opportunity to come in and make the ballclub.”

The Mariners reached agreement Wednesday with Baker, 32, on a minor league deal that includes an invitation to big-league camp. He gets $1 million if he makes the big league roster.

Performance bonuses could add another $3.25 million to Baker’s salary.

The Mariners also traded outfielder Carlos Peguero to the Kansas City Royals for a player to be named later or cash considerations. He was designated for assignment Jan. 16 to clear roster space for catcher John Buck.

Baker was 63-48 with a 4.15 earned-run average for the Minnesota Twins from 2005 to 2011 before missing the 2012 season after undergoing elbow surgery. He pitched 442/3 innings last season in the Chicago Cubs organization.

“He’s still relatively young,” Zduriencik said, “but he’s got experience. He says he’s healthy. He passed his physical. So here we go.”

The Mariners still look to add a right-handed power bat and a proven reliever as they prepare for spring training, which begins Feb. 12 when pitchers and catchers report for camp in Peoria, Ariz.

Reports continue to link the club to two free agents, outfielder Nelson Cruz and reliever Fernando Rodney, among others.

“We have interest in anybody we think can help us,” Zduriencik said. “On any player, it (depends) on what it costs to obtain that player. That’s always the factor, and it would be the factor in any decision as we move forward.”

Baker was a control pitcher with a six-pitch arsenal before his injury. He has averaged 2.1 walks per nine innings over 166 career games in eight big league seasons.

The Mariners sought a veteran starter to fill the No. 3 slot in their rotation behind Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma. Rookies Taijuan Walker and James Paxton and others are expected to compete for the other two spots.

Peguero spent most of last season at Triple-A Tacoma, where he batted .260 with 19 homers and 83 RBIs in 118 games. He appeared in 65 big league games, batting .195 with nine homers and 27 RBIs, from 2011 to 2013.

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