Updated: October 23rd, 2012 1:42pm
Twins GM Terry Ryan on Scott Baker: 'We'd like to keep him'

Twins GM Terry Ryan on Scott Baker: 'We'd like to keep him'

by Phil Mackey
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Minnesota Twins right-hander Scott Baker is now seven months removed from Tommy John elbow surgery. Soon he will likely become a free agent.

The Twins hold a $9 million club option on Baker for next season, but all indications are they will decline it, thus making Baker a free agent.

In an interview with 1500 ESPN's Reusse & Mackey Show on Tuesday, Twins general manager Terry Ryan confirmed the Twins would "like to keep" Baker around for 2013.

The two sides have expressed mutual interest since summer, but this is the first time Ryan has firmly stated the team wants the 31-year-old right-hander back.

Baker said in September, "I'd like to be back. I mean, I know there's other great organizations out there, but this is all I know. I've been here, and I've enjoyed my time here, my family likes it here. There haven't been any talks yet, but I've let them know that I'm definitely open to hearing what they have to say (if they decline the $9 million option). ...

"Whether they choose to pick up the option or not, that's up to them. It's something that I'd definitely be interested in at least listening to what they have to say for sure."

It's possible the Twins and Baker could eventually come to terms on an incentive-laden contract later this offseason.

Baker has been playing catch from flat ground, and the plan is for him to start throwing off a mound sometime in late December or early January. If everything goes according to schedule, Baker expects to be ready for game action by the time spring training arrives.

In parts of seven seasons with the Twins, Baker owns a 4.15 ERA with 770 strikeouts and only 224 walks in 958 innings. He was in the midst of his best season in 2011 (3.14 ERA, 123 strikeouts in 134 2/3 innings) until elbow inflammation slowed him.

The Twins determined during their organizational meetings last week they will likely target three starting pitchers via trade or free agency this offseason. Scott Diamond is already penciled into the rotation.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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In this story: Scott Baker, Scott Diamond