Earlier this morning, rumors began to surface regarding the Cubs’ interest in Royals (soon-to-be) 29-year-old left-handed starter Danny Duffy.
The connection actually began as a purely academic discussion, but apparently materialized into (or already existed as) something more concrete (well, as far as rumors go).
From a high level, Duffy makes plenty of sense for the Cubs – he’s young, talented, cost-controlled, etc. – but many, including Brett, wondered if the sudden “interest” was not somehow related to the Cubs’ reported pursuit of Alex Cobb.
After all, according to Jon Heyman, Cobb is still the preference in free agency:
Cubs have talked to every starter out there but if they can work out a deal for Alex Cobb they seem like they’d like to do that.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 12, 2017
We’ve discussed Cobb a lot here lately (free agent profile here), and the story remains unchanged: He’s a talented, somewhat young starter (30) who’ll cost the Cubs only money (and their second highest draft pick) and, all things equal, would like to work with his former pitching coach Jim Hickey, who’s know with the Cubs. The interest seems to be on both sides, but for some reason, something’s holding things up.
Perhaps Cobb is just holding out for a five-year deal while the Cubs – suspecting they are his strong preference – are holding firm at four years or fewer. Alternatively, maybe the Cubs really do have interest in someone like Danny Duffy or maybe even prefer him (he is a year younger, arguably has more upside), but are being held up by the Royals for one reason or another.
Maybe there’s a new pitcher on the trade market, who wasn’t previously available. Maybe other free agent starters have surprisingly lowered their price tag in recent days as the market slogs along. Maybe other teams got really aggressive on Cobb after missing out on Shohei Ohtani.
Heck, maybe the market is just doing what the market is doing. It’s not like any other significant free agents have signed yet.
There are so many potential strings to unravel in this web*, but one thing seems very clear: the Cubs have very real interest in free agent Alex Cobb and, until recently, the two sides seemed to be on the same page with that interest. Again, I can’t pretend to know exactly what is holding things up, but I can say that the lack of a deal does seem to imply that there could be something else going on.
We’ll continue to monitor and keep you updated, but as of now, assume the Cubs still prefer to add another starting pitcher via free agency, and the most likely name to watch is Alex Cobb.
*I didn’t even make a cobb-web joke. You guys proud of me?