Some rumblings from around the AL East…
- The Orioles have received some calls about Dylan Bundy and Alex Cobb, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reports. We’ve heard already about some level of trade interest in Cobb, and while this is the first time this winter that Bundy’s name has surfaced in trade rumors, it stands to reason that teams are checking in on every veteran name on Baltimore’s roster as the O’s are entering into a lengthy rebuild. Bundy would be the most obviously valuable target, as he still has three years of control remaining and has tossed 341 1/3 innings over the last two seasons, after struggling with injuries in the early stages of his career. Bundy posted a 5.45 ERA last season due in large part to problems (2.1 HR/9) keeping the ball in the park, as his overall peripheral numbers were more solid. Cobb pitched well in the second half of 2018 after enduring a rough first few months as an Oriole, though one would think the O’s might have to eat some money to accommodate a Cobb trade. The veteran righty is still owed $43MM over the next three seasons.
- Before Joakim Soria signed with the Athletics, the Red Sox had interest in the veteran reliever, NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich reports. Talks between the two sides “never got anywhere concrete,” Drellich writes, and Soria ended up going to Oakland on a two-year, $15MM deal. Boston has been linked to several relievers this offseason as the team looks to replace Joe Kelly and (potentially) Craig Kimbrel at the back of the bullpen, though president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has thus far held off on making any major additions. It wouldn’t have been the first time that Dombrowski had acquired Soria; the Tigers traded for Soria in July 2014, back when Dombrowski was Detroit’s general manager.
- There was a lot of mutual interest between Charlie Morton and the Rays, the right-hander told reporters (including MLB.com’s Richard Justice) after his two-year deal with Tampa Bay was officially announced. Beyond what the Rays offered on the field and contract-wise, they had the added bonus of proximity to Morton’s offseason home in Bradenton, Florida. “The thought of being able to play close to home and with such a talented group, a young group, an exciting group, seemed something too good to be true,” Morton said. “I guess I was looking for a really good situation overall more than a dollar amount, more than a year amount. The quality of the character in the clubhouse, those things are really important to me.”
- The Rays’ use of the “opener” was one of the major baseball stories of 2018, and MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince details how the strategy not only aided in Tampa’s on-field success, but also how many other teams around the game are considering (or have already deployed) openers of their own. Of course, the Rays’ own pitchers first had to get used to the idea, and that required the participation of the initial opener, longtime reliever Sergio Romo. “What if I knew that I wasn’t going to be the only one asked to do this?” Romo said. “What if I understood that part of the reason they asked me first was to maybe get the younger guys to say, ’Hey look, he bought into it. He’s supposed to be the veteran on our team, and he had no problem doing that.’ Yeah, I did see that and understand it. In a sense, I knew I wouldn’t be the only one.” It would be interesting to see if Romo’s experience as an opener becomes a selling point for the reliever in free agency, as teams planning to use an opener in 2019 could look to Romo to begin games in addition to serving in a more traditional late-game relief role.