Blue Jays: Alex Cobb would be a fantastic rotation addition
The Toronto Blue Jays can now officially begin to pursue free agents as hot stove season has begun. GM Ross Atkins stated in his season ending press conference that the Blue Jays will look at adding an impact bat as well as an impact pitcher. Impact not being someone like a Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish likely, but a solid mid to back end arm on a short term deal. Who better than Alex Cobb?
Alex Cobb has been a thorn in the Blue Jays’ side throughout his career with the Tampa Bay Rays and has had some of his better games against them in his career. Cobb threw against the Blue Jays twice in 2017 and had a 1.46 ERA between those two starts. In fact, outside of 2014 where Cobb struggled against Toronto, the highest ERA he’s had in a single season against Toronto is 2.31. He seems to pitch very well against the Blue Jays, so it would sure be nice to not face Cobb going forward.
The right-hander had a nice 2017 season now that he was fully recovered from his Tommy John surgery that kept him out all of 2015 and almost all of 2016. Cobb had a 8.59 ERA in five starts in 2016 and was clearly not at full strength with velocity losses across the board on all of his pitches. Cobb experienced velocity upticks in 2017 though, which corresponded with a nice season with 179.1 innings pitched.
The one concerning thing with Cobb is that he has experienced a pretty sharp decline in K% since his surgery. In 2014 he struck out 21.9% of batters, and that number went down to 17.3%. However, one thing that’s improved for Cobb since his surgery is his command. He didn’t have a control problem pre-surgery, but it’s always encouraging when you see guys improve how many batters they walk.
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So, why would Alex Cobb be a fantastic addition? While he may not be a top of the rotation arm that he was pre-surgery, he can still be a very effective mid-rotation arm with the potential to get a bit better than 2017, especially now that he will be three years removed from his surgery and starting his second full campaign post-surgery.
MLB Trade Rumours projects Cobb to net a four year deal worth $48 million, which is $12 million per season on average. The Blue Jays have a rotation spot open and likely won’t be breaking the bank on a starter as they need to address some other needs through free agency. J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada will be off the books after 2018, so Cobb could be a key cog in the rotation for a year or two post Happ and Estrada, and at a reasonable rate.
Combine that with the fact the best scenario for the Blue Jays is to have Joe Biagini stretched out as a starter in Buffalo to begin the year to have as starting pitching depth. The depth got exposed last year and Cobb can be that guy who fills the rotation to ensure Biagini can begin the season in Buffalo.
Should the Toronto Blue Jays make a return trip to the post-season in 2018, it’s very likely the rotation will be a major reason why, just like in 2016. Adding a capable arm as good as Alex Cobb could be for around $10-$14 million per season, it’s a no brainer that he would be the best option out there.
Next: 5 offseason moves for the Blue Jays to make
We’ve seen the Toronto Blue Jays act aggressively to sign their top targets the past few off-seasons. Just look back to how quickly they signed J.A Happ and Kendrys Morales. If the Blue Jays pursue Cobb, expect it to be early in free agency. We could start seeing the rumours pour in in a few days. Alex Cobb could be that top target they pursue heavily and I hope that is the case.