According to “industry consensus,” Alex Cobb’s free agent market will come down to a battle between the Cubs and Yankees, Peter Gammons writes in his newest entry at GammonsDaily.com. Chicago’s interest in Cobb (which is apparently mutual) is already known, and such other teams as the Phillies, Orioles, and Blue Jays have also been linked to Cobb on the rumor mill, though New York would seem like something of a surprise candidate. Since Cobb is expected to land a pricey multi-year deal, it would be difficult for the Yankees to sign the right-hander and stay under the luxury tax threshold, unless the team was able to unload another big contract or two off its books. Starting pitching also doesn’t appear to be a critical need for the Yankees, as while a variety of young arms are battling for the fifth starter’s role, signing a more inexpensive veteran (or bringing back C.C. Sabathia) would seem like a likelier move than making a big splash to sign Cobb.
Here’s more from Gammons…
- Orioles officials are debating whether or not to move Manny Machado to shortstop next season. While Machado is a free agent next winter, incumbent shortstop Tim Beckham may also not be the long-term answer at the position, as his scorching-hot first month with the O’s doesn’t erase other concerns about his overall offensive and defensive capability. Given that Machado himself would reportedly prefer to move from third base to his original minor league position, it doesn’t seem like the O’s would meet with any resistance from the star infielder if they decided on the move. Machado has been one of baseball’s best defensive third basemen but he has also displayed an above-average glove (5.4 UZR/150, +2 Defensive Runs Saved) over 433 career innings at short. A position shift would greatly alter Baltimore’s offseason plans and put them in line to seek out third base help, perhaps even a top free agent like Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier. The O’s could also aim lower and simply look for a platoon partner to join Beckham at the hot corner.
- The Braves “expect to lose” prized prospect Kevin Maitan as part of MLB’s investigation into the team’s alleged violations of international and domestic amateur signing rules, Gammons hear from a source within the Atlanta organization. Interestingly, the feeling within the new Braves front office (now led by new GM Alex Anthopoulos) is that “Maitan was [not] worth the money or the hype,” so losing him wouldn’t be a major setback for the farm system. Maitan signed for a $4.25MM bonus at the opening of the 2016-17 July 2 international signing period, and he hit .241/.290/.340 in his first pro season, receiving 176 PA in rookie ball. Despite those unimpressive numbers, Maitan came into the season as a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball and is still just 17 years old — even if the new Braves decision-makers weren’t keen on Maitan, they’d still be losing a significant trade chip if the league did indeed void his contract with the team.
- Some Red Sox officials want to try Blake Swihart out at second base, as the team will be looking for help at the keystone with Dustin Pedroia sidelined for at least the first two months of the season. Boston has already been exploring the idea of using Swihart in a superutility role, as he is regarded as a good enough athlete to handle first base, third base, left field, and his former position of catcher. Perhaps most importantly for Swihart’s future, the former top prospect tells Gammons that he has “felt the best I’ve felt in two years” and seems fully recovered from the ankle injuries that stalled his development.