Some rumblings out of Tampa Bay…
- Alex Cobb is drawing “potential interest” from the Cubs, Dodgers, and other teams as a trade target, The Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin writes. The determining factor, as Topkin notes, is how Cobb performs in his first full season back after undergoing Tommy John surgery in May 2015. The righty returned late last season to make five starts (and post an 8.59 ERA in 22 IP), and still drew some offseason trade buzz as teams likely were looking to buy low. The Cubs and Dodgers, of course, both have past connections to Cobb and the Rays in the form of Joe Maddon and Andrew Friedman. If Cobb returns to his 2012-14 form and Tampa is out of contention, he’ll be a prime trade chip at the deadline.
- Cobb is entering his last year before free agency, and he tells Topkin that he is being realistic about the possibility that he’ll be dealt since the Rays rarely retain top players hitting the open market. “It’s just the way things unfold here. If you were a betting man, [a trade] probably would be the way to go,” Cobb said. The fact that 2017 could be his last year in a Rays uniform has been weighing on Cobb due to the “life-changing stuff” that has taken place over his 13 years with the franchise. “Then you go into the clubhouse and you see all the faces, people that I’ve seen since I was 18, that really have been your family since then….You think about it, and it’s sad. It’s sad that it’s a possibility I could no longer be around here,” Cobb said.
- Rickie Weeks’ minor league deal with the Rays will pay him $1.5MM if he makes the big league roster, Topkin reports in another item, with $600K more available to the veteran in incentives. In that same piece, Topkin looks through some of the roster decisions facing the Rays during the spring, as the club’s choices are complicated by several out-of-options players. Nick Franklin, for instance, could lose his utility job to Daniel Robertson, or Erasmo Ramirez could be dealt to a team in need of starting depth.
- Chase Whitley, who also underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2015, pitched four scoreless innings in Spring Training action on Saturday. Manager Kevin Cash told reporters, including Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Times, that while Whitley is slated for a relief job, “we’re not ruling out him starting, either. It depends on how the numbers and how the injuries pan out, but right now, we saw last year what he can do coming out of the bullpen. There’s a lot of value to that.” The pen (specifically a long relief role) is still Whitley’s best bet to make the roster, and a spot could open up should Brad Boxberger start the year on the DL. Boxberger has been sidelined all spring with a bad back, but expects to pitch in a minor league game on Tuesday.