Chicago Cubs News: Team maintaining interest in Rays’ Alex Cobb

Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) looks on against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 2, 2016; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) looks on against the Kansas City Royals at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

With major starting rotation concerns after the 2017 season, the Chicago Cubs remain interested in Tampa Bay Rays’ right-hander Alex Cobb.

Last season, the Chicago Cubs trotted out one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. But with John Lackey and Jake Arrieta entering their last seasons of team control, questions loom in the very near future.

With that in mind, the Tampa Bay Times is reporting the Cubs, along with the Los Angeles Dodgers, have maintained interest in right-hander Alex Cobb, who has battled injuries in his career with the Rays.

"“We know what he brings to our pitching staff and our clubhouse,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We all understand how important Alex is to us.”"

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As Marc Topkin points out in his piece, Tampa Bay paid Cobb $4 million in each of the last two years. And in exchange, Cobb turned in a mere 22 innings and one win. With a small-market team like the Rays, such a lopsided arrangement certainly isn’t feasible in the long-term sense.

Cobb is entering his last year under contract in Tampa Bay, as well – and his future remains very much up in the air. David Hill over at Rays Colored Glasses broke down the rumors surrounding Cobb over the weekend, offering his take on the situation:

"While one can take Spring Training statistics with a grain of salt, Cobb is getting closer to his per surgery form. In his 8.1 innings, he has posted a 3.24 ERA and a 1.08 WHiP, allowing seven hits and two walks while striking out four. Maybe the strikeouts are not where Cobb and the Rays would have hoped for, but the results have been promising nonetheless."

Is it feasible that Tampa will deal Cobb?

Tampa Bay, as an organization, has a long history of trading strong performers – especially if it seems like they may be priced out of retaining said player. Should Cobb return to form in 2017, that may once again prove to be the case.

The team just extended Kevin Keirmaier with a six-year deal; in a loaded American League East, is it once again time for the Rays to re-tool and plan for the future?

Prior to his injuries, Cobb was a staple of the Tampa Bay staff. From 2012 to 2014, the right-hander pitched to a 3.19 ERA, 3.41 FIP and 1.175 WHIP across 446 innings. If he can get back to that form, he could prove a valuable commodity.

For his part, though, he’s just trying to do the little things: stay healthy and take things one day at a time.

"“There will definitely be moments throughout the season when it will hit me,” he said. “It won’t be every day where I wake up and say, ‘Hey, this could be my last day here.’ … But it will be like mindless driving down the highway thinking about it. And it’ll be a little sad.”"

What price tag would Cobb come with?

It’s difficult to put a number or a prospect price on Cobb. He hasn’t proven he’s healthy in two years. He’s notched a lone big league win during that span.

Still, he’s proven in the past to be a legitimate starting pitcher for the Rays. A strong start right out of the gates would go a long way in silencing his doubters. Until he does so, however, his trade value remains relatively mild.

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Teams might be looking at him with interest. Remember, Joe Maddon managed him in Tampa and Dodgers’ front office head Andrew Friedman ran the show back then. But, as of now, Alex Cobb is a buy-low kind of player.

Neither Chicago nor Los Angeles will sink blue-chip talent in a deal to land his services, especially mid-season. If Alex Cobb ends up in either Los Angeles or Chicago, it will not happen until the upcoming offseason via free agency.