The beauty of a five-man pitching rotation comprised entirely of young, controllable pitchers was evident on Saturday when the Twins signed Scott Baker to a four-year, $15.25 million contract. The deal is not huge news -- the Twins are simply gaining cost certainty over the next four years, a span during which Baker was under their control anyway. This contract will probably save them some money over the arbitration route and the $9.25 million team option for Baker's first year of free agency is very nice, but the magnitude of this signing certainly is not on par with, say, the Justin Morneau contract last offseason.
It's good to see the Twins being proactive with Baker, who was a logical candidate to be first member of the rotation to receive a long-term deal since he's closer to free agency than everyone other than Francisco Liriano, who still carries some injury concerns. Baker will deservedly be the Twins' Opening Day starter on April 6, and on the open market a pitcher of his caliber would likely cost at least $10 million per season. The fact that the Twins will pay just over $15 million to him over the next four years combined and will face similarly inexpensive commitments with the rest of the team's starters leaves them with plenty of money to spend elsewhere. And of course the most important place for that money to be directed is very clear.
Time to get to work on a new contract for Joe Mauer.