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Alex Cobb Rumors
As expected, Reds starter Homer Bailey underwent Tommy John surgery today, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Though his previously-repaired flexor mass tendon apepared in good shape, Bailey’s UCL was determined to be completely torn, leaving little in the way of options to avoid surgery.
- Likewise, Rays righty Alex Cobb was found to have a fully torn UCL, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports, meaning he too was virtually assured to require a TJ procedure. Cobb says the best-case scenario would have him return late in 2016. Fellow Tampa hurler Matt Moore has continued to build his way back from his own UCL replacement, with MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reporting that Moore was able to throw all of his pitches in a live BP session. Moore says he is targeting a mid-June return to the big league bump.
- Though his shoulder has shown some evidence of progress, Rangers lefty Derek Holland will wait an additional two weeks before he begins throwing, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. Though Texas has enjoyed a somewhat surprising contribution from its starting staff (3.71 ERA, 9th in baseball), peripherals suggest that some regression is forthcoming. Regardless, Holland’s health is critical to the club, both this year and — perhaps even more so — in the future.
- Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is set to catch seven innings tomorrow as he continues to work fully back from Tommy John surgery, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Wieters’ ability to return to health and productivity will go a long way toward determining his free agent earning power next winter, of course. It will also tell on Baltimore’s ability to compete for a postseason slot, though replacement Caleb Joseph has been a revelation.
- The Mariners appear unlikely to see righty Hisashi Iwakuma return until early June, at the soonest, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Manager Lloyd McClendon says that Iwakuma is “probably still two to three weeks from going out [on a rehab assignment]” and will then need to throw a few outings before making it back to the big leagues. As with Wieters, Iwakuma needs to get healthy and show that he can continue to be effective in order to bolster his open market case. The scuffling Mariners, meanwhile, are not only firmly in need of his services, but also must assess whether they will be in the market for rotation help over the summer.
- Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez is not likely to need a DL stint for his left shoulder sprain, manager John Farrell tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston seems to have dodged a bullet with the injury situation, as the club can ill afford an extended absence from the player who has paced the club in hitting thus far.
Rays right-hander Alex Cobb announced to reporters that he will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to MLB.com’s Bill Chastain (on Twitter). Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Cobb learned yesterday that he has a full tear of the ligament, whereas previous tests had indicated it was only a partial tear.
Cobb will be lost for the remainder of the 2015 season and could be sidelined into June or July of the 2016 season. Cobb’s teammate, Matt Moore, underwent Tommy John on April 22 last year and is expected to return to the Rays at some point in June.
Over the past two seasons, the 27-year-old Cobb has looked the part of a front-line starter when healthy enough to take the hill. He’s worked to a 2.82 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 56 percent ground-ball rate in 309 2/3 innings. He has also, however, missed time with a concussion and an oblique injury, and this season he opened the year on the disabled list due to what was originally termed right forearm tendinitis.
Given his previous level of performance, the loss of Cobb is a crushing reality for a Rays club that hoped to have its top pitcher return to bolster a rotation that has been effective as a whole but has seen some struggles at the back end. Drew Smyly was recently activated from the disabled list to join the starting five, which should help provide some stability. Smyly will now join Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns and Alex Colome as the team awaits Moore’s return.
As for Cobb, he’ll be placed on the 15-day DL and, when the team needs a 40-man spot, the 60-day disabled list. He’ll receive Major League service time while injured and continue earning his $4MM salary as he rehabs. Because he didn’t throw a pitch in 2015, Cobb will likely be in line for a very similar, if not identical salary in arbitration this winter. That will mark his second time through the arb process and leave the Rays with roughly one-and-a-half healthy seasons of Cobb, barring any setbacks in his recovery, before he is eligible for free agency at the conclusion of the 2017 season.
Here’s the latest on some injury situations around the game, including several pitchers who will face 12-16 months of recovery time from Tommy John surgery…
- Alex Cobb discussed his injury situation with reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) and the Rays righty admitted that he is “still going back and forth on what to do.” Cobb received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow and will wait a few weeks before testing, though if the procedure doesn’t take, Cobb will have to undergo TJ surgery. If he waits and has to get the surgery anyway, however, Cobb risks missing all of 2016, whereas if he gets the surgery now, he believes he’ll be able to return late next season.
- Right-hander Matt Magill will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, according to the Reds‘ official Twitter feed. Magill’s Major League career consists of six starts for the Dodgers in 2013 that saw him post a 6.51 ERA, 26 strikeouts and 28 walks over 27 2/3 innings. A 31st-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2008 draft, Magill owns a 3.99 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 over 700 2/3 minor league innings. He was traded from Los Angeles to Cincinnati in December in exchange for outfielder Chris Heisey.
- From that same Reds tweet, Homer Bailey will also undergo his own Tommy John surgery tomorrow.
- Rockies closer Adam Ottavino underwent Tommy John surgery this morning, according to Nick Groke of the Denver Post. Ottavino was going to get a second opinion to be sure, yet was fully expecting to get the operation to repair his partially torn UCL.
Rays right-hander Alex Cobb‘s 2015 season is in jeopardy, as is much of his 2016 season, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that an MRI has revealed a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. For the time being, Cobb will rest and undergo treatment in an attempt to pitch through the injury, but he’ll be facing Tommy John surgery if that route proves unsuccessful.
Cobb, 27, has already received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the elbow as part of a visit with Dr. James Andrews. President of baseball operations Matt Silverman told Topkin earlier that the team was in “wait and see” mode and that speculation regarding surgery was premature, though that appears to have been before Topkin learned of the MRI results.
Over the past two seasons, Cobb has looked the part of a front-line starter when healthy enough to take the hill. He’s worked to a 2.82 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 56 percent ground-ball rate in 309 2/3 innings. He has also, however, missed time with a concussion and an oblique injury, and this season he opened the year on the disabled list due to what was originally termed right forearm tendinitis.
Losing Cobb would be a significant blow to a second-place Rays team that has been anxiously awaiting his return to the rotation. However, Tampa successfully weathered the storm after losing Matt Moore to Tommy John surgery last year and trading ace David Price, as their new-look rotation currently features Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Nate Karns and Alex Colome.
Moore is expected to rejoin the club sometime in June or July, and there are other depth options on the 40-man roster including Erasmo Ramirez and Matt Andriese. Another potential depth option, righty Burch Smith (acquired in the Wil Myers trade) is already lost for the year due to Tommy John surgery, however, and Ramirez’s struggles over the past year-plus have been extreme. Further injuries in the rotation, then, could lead to some trade consideration this summer, but adding Moore to the current crop of healthy starters would seem enough to carve out a competitive rotation, even if Cobb is unfortunately lost for the next year.
Yesterday, the Twins promoted outfielder Eddie Rosario from Triple-A Rochester, with Oswaldo Arcia headed to the disabled list due to a right hip flexor strain. (TwinsDaily.com’s Seth Stohs first tweeted word of Rosario’s promotion.) In Rosario, the Twins are recalling a former fourth-round pick that ranked in the organization’s Top 10 prospects per Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, MLB.com and ESPN’s Keith Law. Rosario, in fact, was considered a Top 100 prospect by B-Pro heading into the 2014 season, but he served a suspension for a drug of abuse and didn’t hit much in his return to Double-A. After a promising stint in the Arizona Fall League this past season, Rosario is off to a slow start in Triple-A, but he still, interestingly, gets the call over Aaron Hicks. The 25-year-old Hicks has spent parts of the past two seasons with the Twins in an attempt to establish himself as their everyday center fielder, but the former first-round pick and top 30 prospect has looked overmatched in the Majors. However, he’s hitting quite well to open the year in Triple-A, making it somewhat surprising to seem him passed over. It may only be a short-term look, though I’d think that given Jordan Schafer‘s struggles, there’s at least a chance for Rosario to impress enough to stick on the roster once Arcia is healthy.
Here are some more notes from the American League…
- The Rays are increasingly concerned with righty Alex Cobb after he suffered a setback this weekend, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Cobb, 27, had started to throw again after suffering a forearm strain this spring. Now, per Topkin, Cobb will be shut down for several days and could eventually be a candidate for platelet-rich plasma treatment or even surgery. Cobb has contributed 309 2/3 innings of 2.82 ERA pitching over the last two seasons, making his fate critical to the team’s hopes this year.
- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos says he does not expect any significant trade activity until after the draft, as Ben Nicholson-Smith reports on Twitter. That is obviously the usual course of events, in spite of some discussion that this year could see earlier activity. Toronto is looking up in a tightly-packed AL East after a rough start to the year from its pitching staff. While an early move holds some facial appeal, however, a significant addition would likely require a premium return.
- It is indeed early, but not too early for the White Sox to begin planning for a summer sale, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs opines. Chicago rode into the year on a wave of optimism, even if projection systems never bought the team as an obvious playoff club, but is off to a dreadful start. With multiple holes on the big league roster, says Cameron, GM Rick Hahn should be ready to be nimble in cashing in assets. In particular, Cameron suggests that marketing free agent-to-be Jeff Samardzija before other appealing arms join the market could be the best way to maximize his value.
The Rays have announced that starting pitcher Alex Cobb‘s MRI has revealed that he has tendinitis in his right forearm. He will not be able to start Opening Day. Cobb’s injury is just the latest in a long string for the Rays rotation, which is also currently without Drew Smyly (shoulder), Alex Colome (pneumonia) and, of course Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery). Even before Cobb’s injury, the Rays had planned to consider minor moves to upgrade their starting pitching depth. Here’s more from the East divisions.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington isn’t concerned about being fired if his expensive signing of Yoan Moncada doesn’t work out, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. “We understand that not everything we do is going to work out,” says Cherington. “But we feel good about the process and why we’re doing it.” As Abraham notes, the signing of the 19-year-old Moncada comes with plenty of upside, but it’s risky, too — the Red Sox have already made a series of high-profile investments (though not as high-profile or nearly as expensive as Moncada) in international players who haven’t worked out, like Jose Vinicio, Adalberto Ibarra, Juan Carlos Linares, Tzu-Wei Lin and Dalier Hinojosa.
- The Mets didn’t anticipate Zack Wheeler‘s elbow issues would be so severe, so that wasn’t why they held onto Dillon Gee, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. They did, however, keep Noah Syndergaard in part because of general worries about the health of their starting pitchers, including not only Wheeler (who also had elbow discomfort last year) but also Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey. Martino also explains why they didn’t trade Wheeler before the news that he would have to have Tommy John surgery, even though they were aware of his prior elbow trouble — they still like his upside and he’ll still be under team control when he returns.
With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz…
- Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
- The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
- Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
- Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
- The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
- ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
- Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
- Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
- Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
- Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
- Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
- Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.
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Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares some news and opinions in his latest reader mailbag piece…
- The Rays aren’t looking to trade Alex Cobb, as they see the right-hander as a building block piece. Cobb is under team control through the 2017 season and is only arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter; as Cafardo notes, Tampa only tends to move its stars when they get too expensive.
- Cafardo believes the Red Sox will acquire an ace-level pitcher before Opening Day. Given all of Boston’s other winter moves, “it makes no sense to do all they’ve done…and not go after the ace” to top everything off, Cafardo writes, especially since the Sox have the prospect depth to make a trade happen and already might be over the luxury tax threshold.
- One of those potentially available aces is Cole Hamels, who the Red Sox have been connected to in rumors but “there haven’t been substantiative talks lately.” Cafardo speculates that Boston could be waiting for the Phillies‘ asking price to drop, and the Sox have already turned down one offer that would’ve cost them both Mookie Betts and Blake Swihart.
- Besides getting an ace pitcher, Cafardo also predicts the Red Sox will add another reliever (possibly a hard-throwing lefty) and trade one of Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava or Allen Craig before the season begins. In Craig’s case, Cafardo believes the Sox won’t deal him until they see if he’s productive in Spring Training, as Craig is a valuable bat if healthy.
Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.
Way back in 2006, Dontrelle Willis set a record for first-time eligible starting pitchers by earning a $4.35MM salary. Arbitration records rarely last eight years, but Willis’ record has. This year, however, three pitchers emerged as possible contenders to top this record. There have been a number of pitchers who looked destined to break this record before. Notably, Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw had cases that were far stronger than Willis. But each signed a multi-year deal, which does not count towards arbitration records. As a result, there have been a number of pitchers who have crept closely up to Willis’ record but failed to top it. Had Lincecum or Kershaw signed a one-year deal to avoid arbitration, it is likely that other pitchers would have ended up earning more than the $4.35MM that Willis earned in 2006.
This type of situation is one that can break a model of arbitration salaries. My model sees Lance Lynn earning $5.5MM, Chris Tillman earning $5.4MM, and Alex Cobb earning $4.5MM. Of course, “The Kimbrel Rule” would cap Lynn and Tillman at $5.35MM, letting them only eclipse the previous record by $1MM. But these are all sort of path-dependent. Only Lynn looks likely to break the arbitration record on his own, but if he does that it is likely to affect what Tillman and Cobb earn. The effect that records have for a given service class and role can make the model look bad in that respect. There have been nine different pitchers in the last five years who have gotten within $50K of Willis’ record, but in each case something led the players to earn just less than him.
The lower run-scoring environment in the league in recent years has certainly helped Lynn, Tillman, and Cobb put together better cases than some of the other nine guys. Last year, Lynn had a 2.74 ERA while Cobb allowed 2.87 earned per nine. The only two starting pitchers in recent years to reach their first year of arbitration eligibility with ERAs under 3.00 have actually been Lincecum and Kershaw. Stephen Strasburg had an ERA of 3.00 exactly and earned $3.97MM last year, but he struggled with run support and only had an 8-9 record. Travis Wood and Mike Minor earned $3.90MM and $3.85MM last year with low ERAs of 3.11 and 3.21, but their records were 9-12 and 13-9. Lance Lynn had a 15-10 record, which should help him put together a better case than any of them. Cobb only mustered a 10-9 record despite his 2.87 ERA. Tillman went 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA, so his ERA is more in line with these other pitchers, but he had a better record than many of them. Tillman also has a lot of innings under his belt for a first-time eligible pitcher. He not only threw 207.1 innings in 2014, but logged 473 innings in his pre-platform years, which is basically as many as any of the nine pitchers who earned within that $3.85-4.35MM range that I mentioned earlier.
David Price actually matched Willis’ record with a 12-13 record in 2011 and a 3.49 ERA in 224.1 innings, so he might be that person that would be considered if any of these pitchers try to set a new high mark. Lance Lynn seems the most likely to do so, and his case actually compares pretty favorably to Price’s. Lynn had a better record and ERA (15-10, 2.74) than Price (12-13, 3.49) in his platform year. Although Price threw 224.1 innings, Lynn did throw 203.2. Lynn also had a 34-18 record with a 3.82 ERA in 412.1 innings in his pre-platform seasons, while Price had a 29-13 record with a 3.31 ERA in 351 innings. Lynn’s case also is pretty good compared to the next highest case in recent years. In 2010, Jered Weaver went 16-8 with a 3.75 ERA in 211 innings, after having a 35-19 record with a 3.71 ERA in 460.2 innings in his pre-platform years. Lynn’s pre-platform numbers are very similar to Weaver’s but his platform year ERA is a run better. Putting Lynn’s case up against Price and Weaver makes it look likely that he could set the record.
That being said, I doubt that Lynn will crush the record and end up with the $5.5MM the model projects without applying the Kimbrel Rule, or even the $5.35MM that he would earn once the Kimbrel Rule was applied. But it does seem likely that he will find himself earning north of $4.35MM.
If Lynn established the record, then he may be used as a comparable for Tillman and/or Cobb. But I suspect that they will still not be able to top $4.35MM despite what the model says. Cobb’s 10-9 record will hurt him, although his 2.87 ERA is obviously outstanding. Price’s numbers look better when you consider the fact that he threw 58 more innings than Cobb in his platform year and won two more games. He also had 80 more pre-platform innings and four more pre-platform wins with a similar pre-platform ERA. I suspect Price will be seen as a ceiling for Cobb unless his ERA matters more than I suspect. I could see Doug Fister’s 2013 case, which earned him $4.00MM, serving as a floor for Cobb though. Fister also struggled with run support and only went 10-10, so he had the same number of wins as Cobb. Fister only had 161.2 innings, too, which is almost equal to Cobb’s 161.1. But Fister had a 3.45 ERA, which is more than half a run higher than Cobb. Fister also had only a 20-31 record pre-platform with a 3.49 ERA in 448.1 innings, while Cobb had a 25-14 record and a 3.39 ERA in 332.1 pre-platform innings. Obviously Fister has the edge in pre-platform innings, but I suspect the superior ERA will make Cobb’s case look better. I think somewhere between $4-4.35MM is likely for Cobb, falling somewhat short of his $4.5MM projection but still in the same ballpark.
Chris Tillman’s projection looks less likely to be close. Tillman went 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 207.1 innings last year and 32-25 with a 4.28 ERA in 473 pre-platform innings. His case actually looks a lot like Price—he has one more win with an ERA 0.15 lower in his platform season, but with 17 fewer innings. He also won 29 games pre-platform, shy of Price’s 32, but had a 4.28 ERA. Price’s ERA was nearly a run better at 3.31. At the same time, Tillman had 473 pre-platform innings to Price’s 351. So depending on whether pre-platform ERA or pre-platform innings are more important, Tillman could beat Price or fall short of him. Mike Minor from last year might serve as a solid comparable for Tillman too. He won 13 games like Tillman did, with a 3.21 ERA and 204.2 innings. However, he had only 19 pre-platform wins in 302.2 pre-platform innings and an ERA even higher than Tillman at 4.37. So Minor would actually be more of a floor at $3.85MM. I suspect Tillman will probably match Price, but if not I doubt that he will fall below Minor’s numbers.
Overall, I think the model is going to be high on all three of these pitchers. They will probably move together, so if one of them ends up hitting the model, then the others are more likely to do so as well, but if they fall short, they will probably do so together. I think that Tillman and Cobb are probably not going to top the $4.35MM record, although I suspect Lynn will. If any of them do—and without signing multi-year deals—then they may make it easier for future starters to do so as well.
In the wake of yesterday’s report Rays ownership has discussed relocating the franchise to Montreal, Commissioner Bud Selig paused and then declined to answer whether Tampa Bay is a viable major league market, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Selig did say, however, the team needs a replacement for Tropicana Field. “The team has to have a ballpark that makes them competitive,” the commissioner said before Game Four of the World Series. “It doesn’t produce the kind of revenue they need.”
In other news involving the Rays and the American League:
- Change is coming to the Rays and the front office and players alike don’t see it as a negative, writes the Tampa Tribune’s Roger Mooney. “Whoever we bring in here, they’re going to set the scheme and how they want to win games and be a successful organization,” said pitcher Alex Cobb. “When that trickles down to the players, all that is is us playing up to our capabilities, and that doesn’t matter who is in the dugout or the front office.” Mooney notes all coaches are under contract for 2015; but, if the new manager is from outside the organization, there may be changes to the staff.
- In today’s mailbag, a reader proposed his Indians offseason plan to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer: trade Jason Kipnis and David Murphy for prospects to free up money, then use that money on Victor Martinez. Hoynes doesn’t see the Tribe trading Kipnis so soon after giving him a $50MM+ extension, despite his bad year. The reader’s ambitious plan also calls for Cleveland to have one of their young outfielders form a platoon with Nick Swisher and, given his $15MM salary, Hoynes believes the team wants to see him in the lineup every day.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe identified Mark Buehrle as a trade candidate earlier today and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets the Twins have long been admirers of the Blue Jays hurler. Still, his $19MM salary is too high.
- If the Jon Daniels-Jeff Banister partnership works in Texas, it will continue a trend in the game of a college educated GM with no professional playing experience working with a baseball lifer as manager, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.