As I scramble behind the scenes to try to fix a tech problem (if you’re not seeing the newest posts on the home page, I’m sorry, and I’m trying to fix – in the meantime, you can find new posts by going to the various category pages, and/or by clearing your browser’s cache and refreshing), I have to also offer up a little rumor update and discussion …
#Brewers and Alex Cobb’s representatives have been in touch recently, source says. Division rival #Cubs viewed as one favorite to sign Cobb, in part because of connection to new pitching coach Jim Hickey. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 31, 2017
The Cubs being a favorite on Alex Cobb, particularly because of the Jim Hickey connection, seems to be a passé rumor at this point, what with the many, many weeks of inactivity and rumors of an aggressive asking price holding things up. The Cubs have since been courting Yu Darvish, and he may even be their number one target, ahead of Cobb.
As we’ve discussed, Cobb is a perfectly attractive target for the Cubs on the right deal (three or four years, no more than $15 million annually). Yes, there are some concerning peripherals, but there was also a great track record before Tommy John surgery, and a long run of fantastic starts in the second half of 2017:
From June 9 on, the dude was really, truly excellent. Not only did he post an absurd 3.07 ERA, but his walk rate dropped, his strikeout rate increased, and his hard contact rate decreased. And that 3.07 ERA? It came despite one of those starts being a three-inning stint in which he gave up eight earned runs against the Astros. Another one was a 6.1-inning six-earned-run affair. So, over those final 17 starts, he gave up 14 of his earned runs in just two starts. In the other 15 starts? 22 earned runs combined.
If you’re Cobb’s camp, you basically are telling teams he figured it out in early June in his first full year back from Tommy John, and that dominant starter is the guy you’re signing, at only age 30.
The Brewers, in need of high-end starting pitching, make as much sense as any other suitor for Cobb … and also figure to be as price sensitive as any other suitor. The Brewers have the financial flexibility that accompanies a young roster, but they do not have the big-market dollars to throw around if Cobb’s price tag explodes. That said, the Brewers were rumored to be in on Jake Arrieta long ago, so their deciding to step it up financially on the pitching market may be a specific plan this offseason.
Of course, it’s also always possible that the Brewers are hanging around as long as possible to help keep the price tag elevated on the Cubs. And maybe the Cubs’ interest in Darvish is mostly to push that Cobb price tag back down. I tend to think there are price levels where the Cubs would happily sign Darvish and the Brewers would happily sign Cobb, but we can’t act like these things are all happening in a vacuum.
As we come out of the New Year holiday, I would expect to see some movement on the free agent market (*but this year is crazy, yada yada, can’t predict anything, blah blah*). Teams are going to need to know where they stand very soon for budget purposes (arbitration figures are going to be exchanged in just a few weeks), and players are going to want to make life plans (pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in a little over a month). Seeing some notable movement throughout January is always the case … seeing the bulk of the offseason activity in this month? That’s going to be something really new for all of us, and, as I said, I tentatively expect things to move more in the first half of the month rather than the second.