The Tampa Bay Rays aren’t likely to retain Alex Cobb, so it’ll probably come down to the Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers or Toronto Blue Jays (with the Baltimore Orioles also in the picture) to sign the right-handed pitcher.
Cobb turned down the Rays qualifying offer, and now will likely end up signing a long term deal, not necessarily for a lot more money, somewhere else. The 29-year old had a terrific 2017, finishing with a 3.66 ERA through 179.1 innings, while improving his SO/BB ratio to 2.91, allowing just 2.2 walks per 9 innings.
The Cubs look like the leading team in the race for Cobb, despite recently signing Tyler Chatwood on a 3-year, $38 million deal. The Cubs expect that Jake Arrieta or Wade Davis won’t stay with the team after they declined their qualifying offers also. The Cubs would need to give up their second highest pick for Cobb, but the compensation they’ll get from either Davis or Arrieta should make up for it.
Cobb has connections to a number of people on the Cubs staff, including Joe Maddon, who coached him in Tampa Bay from 2011 to 2014. Cobb himself said he’d be very honored to sign with the Cubs, if things develop that way.
There is a risk to sign Cobb, who didn’t play in all of 2015 due to Tommy John surgery. He is projected to make about $50 million over four seasons. He made $4.2 million with the Rays last season.
In his career, with over 700 innings pitched, Cobb has a 3.50 ERA, 2.79 K/BB ratio, 1.217 WHIP and a 54% ground ball ratio. The most promising sign in 2017, despite some parameters taking dips, was that his velocity didn’t drop, which is good news for him and any team interested in signing him.