Andrew Friedman hasn’t been shy about investigating former Tampa Bay Rays. That may again be the case.
The Dodgers and Chicago Cubs are two teams interested in Rays starter Alex Cobb, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, who cites “whispers” around the organizations.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) March 19, 2017
“Nor should you pin this on the Rays, as they have the right to maximize their assets, and with all the young — and inexpensive — pitching they have in the system to replace Cobb (such as Jose De Leon), getting something for him in July is only logical.
There are already whispers of potential interest elsewhere, including two teams with intimate connections — the Cubs, managed by ex-Ray Joe Maddon; and the Dodgers, presidented by ex-Ray Andrew Friedman.”
Tampa Bay already damaged its clubhouse by trading Logan Forsythe to L.A. If Cobb is highly regarded, it’d be running a risk most organizations try hard to avoid: Ruining the culture.
For the Cubs, it makes sense. Chicago is looking for another starter, and manager Joe Maddon brought the best out of Cobb when he was in the Rays’ dugout.
But L.A. is less clear. The Dodgers already have a jam in the rotation that will bump one of Alex Wood, Brandon McCarthy or Hyun-Jin Ryu to the ‘pen. Julio Urias will be back up by midseason to displace one of them. Scott Kazmir is on the mend, but absorbing salary nonetheless.
Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart and Trevor Oaks are other internal options. Making the move for a starter seems unnecessary on the Dodgers’ part right now. To Topkin’s credit, he alluded to a July deal, though that may be even less likely depending on injuries.
Cobb was a bright young star, growing into one of the better starters in the American League. As Topkin notes, he was 21-12 with a 2.82 ERA from 2013-2014.
Injuries derailed him. Cobb is now a 29-year-old who has been phased out of the Rays’ plans and into a world where he’s working to regain what once was.
Topkin points out the death of Cobb’s mother in high school, his life-threatening hit from Eric Hosmer’s bat in 2013 and Tommy John surgery. Adversity is nothing new for Cobb, but it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be close where he was three years ago.
Cobb acknowledged his time in Tampa Bay is running low. If he’s as beloved in the clubhouse as it appears, Friedman will surely have interest. Aside from the roster jam, the negotiation aspect of a deal makes it unlikely. If Cobb rebounds, there will be several teams desperate for another above-average starter and probably willing to pay more than L.A. If Cobb can’t recover, why would the Dodgers trade for another starter who was eliminated by his own health?
Los Angeles may well be intrigued by Cobb. While the fit is questionable, if Friedman sees a player who can return to peak form, anything is on the table.