Even though right-hander Alex Cobb is still a free agent as the regular season closes in, there won’t be a reunion between him and the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Cobb’s not going to end up signing for a price the Rays deem palatable, Topkin suggests, even though he’s amid a highly disappointing trip to free agency after rejecting the team’s $17.4MM qualifying offer at the outset of the offseason. As they begin life without Cobb, the Rays are set to use a four-man rotation – something their top starter, Chris Archer, discussed with Travis Sawchik of FanGraphs. “The concept makes sense,” said Archer, who noted it’s particularly logical for low-payroll teams to have “four guys on the shuttle making $500,000 each,” as opposed to one player earning $2MM-plus. Although, Archer cautioned that it’s “hard to sustain” a bullpen-heavy plan over the course of a 162-game season. Archer’s also wary about how teams going to more of a bullpen approach could affect player development, as he explained to Sawchik, whose quote-filled piece is worth reading in full.
More from the AL:
- Twins infielder Erick Aybar will be able to ask for his release if the team doesn’t add him to its roster by Friday, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports (all Twitter links here). It’s unclear whether Aybar would accept a Triple-A assignment (the club hasn’t discussed it with him, per chief baseball officer Derek Falvey), but his chances of eventually landing a spot with the Twins may have improved Sunday with starting shortstop Jorge Polanco’s 80-game suspension. Polanco got the news of his positive PED test a month ago, Dan Hayes of The Athletic was among those to tweet, but the Twins themselves weren’t aware of it until Sunday, Falvey said.
- In better news for the Twins, righty Ervin Santana is “progressing as expected” in his recovery from February finger surgery, according to Falvey (via Berardino). He should be back toward the tail end of the 10- to 12-week recovery timeline, Berardino notes.
- Tigers righty Mike Fiers’ back issues could force him to start the season on the disabled list, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press relays. If so, both Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd would make a Detroit rotation whose only sure bets at the moment are Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano. The Tigers guaranteed Fiers $6MM over the winter with the hope that he’d grab a starting spot, but he hasn’t made a good case for himself this spring, having surrendered 12 earned runs on 10 hits and eight walks, with seven strikeouts, in 11 1/3 innings. Nevertheless, thanks to his veteran status, the Tigers are willing to give the 32-year-old Fiers “leeway,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. As such, if Fiers is healthy, he’ll be in their season-opening rotation.
- Athletics right-hander Raul Alcantara could lose his 40-man roster spot when their deal with righty Trevor Cahill becomes official, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Alcantara, 25, is out of options and hasn’t produced in Oakland, where he combined for 46 1/3 innings of 7.19 ERA/7.45 FIP ball from 2016-17.