At the outset of the offseason, almost every reasonable sign pointed to Alex Cobb eventually signing with the Chicago Cubs (the expected bounce back, good value, relationship with Joe Maddon and new Cubs pitching coach Jim Hickey, etc.)
But after the Cubs added Tyler Chatwood on a three-year $38 million deal, they were reportedly turned down by Cobb on a similar offer (three years, $42 million). The Cubs ultimately pivoted to Yu Darvish (six-years, $126 million) and the rest is history.
Until today, the decision to turn down the Cubs was looking like a misstep for Cobb. After all, big-time free agents all across MLB have been forced to take shorter-term, lower-dollar, or uniquely-structured deals to get something together.
But hey, maybe Cobb will be an exception. Because according to Ken Rosenthal, he’s not just getting a multi-year deal, he’s getting plenty of money, too:
Sources: #Orioles close to agreement with free-agent RHP Alex Cobb. Expected to be at least three years. Sides had been talking about deal in range of three years, $50M. Possibility of deal first mentioned by @JeffPassan.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 20, 2018
Obviously we’ll have to update when the terms come out [SEE UPDATE BELOW], but if Cobb is able to get at least three years and $50 million, I think you’d have to say that’s a big win in this market, this close to the season (reminder: Cobb was attached to draft pick compensation, so the Orioles will be forfeiting a pick in the upcoming draft, as well as some IFA bonus pool money). Remember, Lance Lynn *just* signed a one-year deal, and even Jake Arrieta got only three years guaranteed.
As for the broader implications, the good news here is that neither the Cardinals nor the Brewers landed the starting pitcher they arguably needed. While each of their offseasons were plenty impressive, both teams could use another starter and Cobb was looking like he might wind up offering some big-time value to one of those two teams. The fact that Cobb went all the way to the AL East is just gravy on top.
To that same end, the last big-time free agent remaining is now Greg Holland, who is still a threat to join the Cardinals, in my estimation. We’ll see if his market, like Cobb’s, was able to pick back up so close to the season, or if he’ll be forced to settle for a one-year cushion deal and try again next winter.
UPDATE via Brett: Well, looks like the deal is even better than expected for Cobb. As in, it might be the very deal he was reportedly hoping to get many months ago when things didn’t work out with the Cubs:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 20, 2018
Obviously I’m quite pleased the Cubs got the deal they did on Yu Darvish in any case, but all the more so if this is what it would have taken to land Cobb, who comes with legitimate upside, but also so much risk. Still, he winds up getting a guarantee just $15-ish million lower than what Jake Arrieta got (albeit for an additional year and without the opt out, I’m assuming). That’s a very solid deal for Cobb, even if it weren’t a wonky market.
UPDATE 2 via Brett: Just under $60 million, with some deferred money that makes the present value even less. Still, a very good get for Cobb, all things considered:
Breaking on Cobb deal 4 yr $57 mil according to mLB official
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) March 20, 2018
Told that $56 million for Cobb is "almost on the nose" and there are deferrals each year #orioles
— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) March 20, 2018