Yesterday, we learned that the Chicago Cubs’ initial offer to free agent righty Alex Cobb was for three years and about $42 million, far lower than most have been pegging for his eventual contract. But with the Cubs probably his preferred destination – he was reportedly willing to accept that offer until his agency encouraged him to shop around – the team is likely confident enough to hold back and wait before moving up.
My guess was that the Cubs were holding fast to that figure, while also courting Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta on shorter deals than they were hoping for, and the first pitcher to pull the trigger would be the one the Cubs land. With Cobb, specifically, I suspected that he might be waiting to see if that four-year, higher-AAV offer comes through, and could otherwise fall back to the Cubs.
Well, Jon Heyman reports that Cobb, “is believed to be willing to sign in the four-year, $70 million range,” and so there you go. It’s not quite the four-year, $80 million request that was floated by reports (and denied by Cobb’s camp) at the Winter Meetings, but it’s a really significant price tag. My speculation? I think that four-year, $70 million price tag is the “OK, I’ll sign with your team instead of the Cubs” price tag. (And it’s just speculation, though it’s informed by following this storyline from the moment Cobb was first attached to the Cubs to the time he said he hoped to work out a deal with the team, and beyond.)
It’s hard for me to imagine the Cubs going to four years and a $17.5 million AAV on Cobb at this point, and they may continue to draw that line at three years, willing to risk the chance that some other team pops up.
The Cubs know they also have a shot at Darvish and Arrieta, and they also know that they are at least covered if they don’t land any of the three (or Lance Lynn). Not only could they simply slot Mike Montgomery into the rotation, but they also still have the chance to acquire a starting pitcher in trade, or (I know, I know, don’t jump on me) bring in a couple depth starters from the Jaime Garcia, Jeremy Hellickson, Trevor Cahill, etc., tier of free agent starters, and re-assess at midseason.