Tampa Bay Rays Rumors: Open to Dealing Cobb this Off-Season

Open to dealing starting pitchers, Tampa Bay Rays former ace  Alex Cobb could be a bargaining chip this offseason.

Only 18 months removed from Tommy John surgery, Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb could be one of the bargaining chips during the offseason according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

Cafardo reports that just about every starter other than Chris Archer could be on the move with Rays President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman looking for a quality hitter and or prospects in return. Last month, MLB.com’ Jim Bowden reported that since the Tampa Bay Rays were not afraid to trade Matt Moore, they will do the same this offseason.

Cobb who was on the books for $4 million in 2016 and is arbitration eligible heading into 2017 is projected to make the same salary. Cobb is also a free agent after the 2017 season, despite the Tampa Bay Rays holding one more year of control, could become too expensive for the team to retain.

Following his 2015 surgery, Cobb returned to the mound for the Rays in September making five starts, posting a 1-2 record with an 8.59 ERA in 22-1/3 innings. He allowed 22 runs on 32 hits (21 earned), gave up seven home runs with 16 strikeouts and walked just seven.

Last off-season, the Rays fielded trade offers for Cobb, despite the fact that he was still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. The reasoning behind that was clubs figuring he would come on the cheap, but the Rays saw otherwise as the offers were not to their liking.

The target destination for Cobb was to the Chicago Cubs with the Rays wanting Jorge Soler and or Javier Baez in return. However, Cubs President Theo Epstein was not willing to deal either Baez or Soler to bolster Joe Maddon’s rotation.

Epstein must have had that “gut” feeling about holding onto Baez, as he shinned for the Cubs – especially during the NL Championship Series against the Dodgers when he was named Co-MVP of the National League Championship Series.

This offseason the starting pitching free agent market is somewhat weak, so it is more likely that the trade market takes over. At this point, it comes down to supply and demand and the Rays have the supply that teams are wanting. However, the demand for a pitcher like Cobb will not come cheap – especially to the Rays.

Getting a quality hitter, not necessarily a power-hitter are what the Rays could use and if only that quality player could be a catcher. At the same time a reliable mid-innings or set-up man for the bullpen. Both areas are hard to obtain via a trade, as teams are not necessarily willing to part with them.

While Rays have made numerous trades over the winter in recent years, dealing Cobb could come back as one of the worst trades if he should have an outstanding season with another team.

Cobb’s trade value could improve though during the season, especially if he is able to return to the “old” Cobb that pitched to a 2.82 ERA from 2013-2014. At the same time, if the Rays are in contention they will likely wait on making the trade. However, if Cobb sustains an injury and teams are still interested, Silverman will have a tough decision on his hands.

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Remember, most pitchers that have undergone Tommy John surgery do not fully regain their strength until the second year removed from surgery. Therefore, 2017 could be Cobb’s “Comeback” season for the Rays.

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