As the recent trade of Jose Iglesias to the Angels indicates, the Orioles are open to moving any veteran on their roster, particularly those making a significant salary. Alex Cobb (owed $15MM in 2021) certainly qualifies as a trade candidate, though GM Mike Elias suggested to MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski and other reporters that the Orioles could keep the 33-year-old righty at least into the start of the season. “I have no doubt if he pitches like Alex Cobb, he’s going to draw interest and we’re going to ultimately see where we’re at and see what the situation is….I think it would be beneficial for us to go into the season with Alex if that’s the way that it shakes out and having that front end spot in the rotation fortified with his ability and veteran presence,” Elias said.
Cobb signed a four-year, $57MM deal just prior to the start of the 2018 season, and after struggling in 2018 and missing almost all of 2019 due to injury, Cobb had solid bottom-line numbers over 10 starts this past season. The right-hander posted a 4.30 ERA, 2.11 K/BB rate, 54.5% grounder rate, and 6.5 K/9 over 52 1/3 innings, though Statcast was thoroughly unimpressed by his performance. Those metrics and Cobb’s hefty salary certainly limit his trade value at the moment, so it makes sense that the O’s would see if he can perform better in the early stages of the 2021 campaign in order to possibly leverage him as a trade chip at the deadline. If Cobb can’t be moved but is able to duplicate his 2020 results, Baltimore would at least benefit (as Elias noted) from a dependable arm on the mound.
Here are some other items from both the AL and NL East…
- The Mets have been linked to just about every big name free agent this winter, though The New York Post’s Joel Sherman wonders if the team might take a more measured approach to its winter shopping. Rather than splurge on any of the “big four” free agents (Trevor Bauer, George Springer, J.T. Realmuto, and DJ LeMahieu), Sherman opines that New York could direct its resources towards “dominating the second tier” of the market. Such roster upgrades would still make the team better “while potentially saving money and prospects for the July trade market — and beyond.” Signing James McCann rather than Realmuto could be a hint that the team is deploying such a tactic, though the other school of thought suggests that McCann was signed so the Mets could save some money for a bigger push to land Bauer or Springer.
- After undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2019, Blue Jays left-hander Tim Mayza is looking forward to returning to action in Spring Training, The Toronto Star’s Laura Armstrong writes. Mayza’s rehab was more complicated the normal TJ recovery process, as Mayza had to also recover from a torn flexor tendon (suffered at the same time as his UCL tear) and spend much of his time working out at home rather than at team facilities due to the COVID-19 lockdown. If that wasn’t enough, Mayza tested positive for the coronavirus this fall, though he was thankfully asymptomatic during his two weeks of quarantine. “Although it’s been different, my rehab was not stalled at all through all this,” Mayza said. “I’ve continued to stay on track and the end goal of being 100 per cent by spring training is very much a realistic goal.” Mayza has a 4.67 ERA, 2.71 K/BB rate, 48.6% grounder rate, and 10.6 K/9 over 104 innings with Toronto from 2017-19, and he has held left-handed batters to a .217/.288/.349 slash line over 208 plate appearances. With a lack of southpaw relief options on the Jays’ 40-man roster, there is certainly opportunity for Mayza to win a job if he looks good in camp.
- The Mets’ signing of McCann took the catching market’s second-best option off the board, further limiting the free agent choices for teams in need of help behind the plate. The Nationals are one of those clubs, and as Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com writes, “they’re either going to have to spend well north of $100MM on Realmuto or hope one of the remaining lesser options is good enough” if the Nats turn to free agency for catching help. Realmuto might be out of the picture given the indications that the Nationals aren’t planning on any big spending this offseason, though since Washington still has Yan Gomes, the team might decide that a platoon partner is all that is required at catcher.