MLB Rumors: Alex Cobb, Andrew McCutchen, and other news from around the league
Alex Cobb is generating interest, a team wants to acquire Andrew McCutchen, and that’s just the beginning of what’s happening in baseball!
As the offseason plods on, teams and players alike continue to take a wait-and-see approach as the market sets itself, if we can even call it that. The good news today is that some teams do appear interested in making a move soon, be it via a trade or signing someone outright. In fact, another free agent domino fell yesterday evening, so perhaps it’s only a matter of time before the storm hits and the hot stove reaches its boiling point.
A key free agent pitcher has not signed yet but is generating plenty of interest. In the Steel City, the Pirates could be convinced to move a star player. Oh, and what on Earth is happening in Los Angeles?
Strap in, folks. This is the rumor roundup!
Alex Cobb’s popularity
Despite his injury history, former Tampa Bay Rays righty Alex Cobb is expected to earn a lucrative contract as a free agent this year. No specific teams have shown interest yet, but that hasn’t stopped Cobb from being one of the hotter commodities on this year’s market. Rays beat writer Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times tweeted yesterday that Cobb’s representatives were “engaged” with several teams, but no deal was imminent.
This means one of two things. The market will keep moving at its current pace, or it’s about to explode with Cobb being the first big name to sign a contract. He was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 179.1 innings in 2017, his first full year back from Tommy John surgery in 2015. He comes with risks, but Cobb should still continue to attract plenty of suitors and it’s just looking like a matter of time before he signs a new deal.
McCutchen goes west?
Even if the Pittsburgh Pirates contend in 2018, GM Neal Huntington is almost certain to trade star outfielder Andrew McCutchen just to restock the minor league system. Per Jon Morosi of MLB Network, the San Francisco Giants continue to be interested in the right-handed slugger and view him as an alternative option if trade talks regarding the Miami Marlins and Giancarlo Stanton do not progress beyond simple negotiations.
McCutchen, 31, is a former MVP and will earn $14.5m in the final year of his contract. He overcame a slow start last season and finished the year with a slash line of .279/.363/.486 and hit 28 home runs with 88 RBI. He is no longer the threat on the basepaths he was in his younger days but is still a strong fielder with plenty of power. San Francisco is an unusual destination for him, but his swing and defense could prove to be a prime fit in the Bay Area.
Alas, this is just a rumor until there is further traction with Stanton, but keep your eye on this story just the same.
Dodgers could move Grandal
Now that the sting of losing the World Series has subsided at least a little, the Los Angeles Dodgers appear ready to get back to business starting with trading catcher Yasmani Grandal. Morosi reported last night that Grandal, who just turned 29, is about to enter his final year of arbitration and will be due a raise from the $5.5m he earned in 2017. If a deal is struck, Los Angeles would use Austin Barnes as the everyday catcher.
Grandal played in 129 games last season and posted a slash line of .247/.308/.459, plus 22 home runs with 58 RBI. He struck out 130 times in 482 plate appearances and had just 40 walks, which could be why he only appeared in four postseason games and went hitless in eight at-bats. Barnes is the stronger defensive catcher and Grandal’s bat has enough power that an American League team in need of a DH could be interested in paying a minimal price for him on the trade market.
Or, if Los Angeles engages with the Marlins on Stanton, perhaps Grandal could be used as a chip in those talks too.
Astros seek Mike Fiers trade
The Houston Astros want to move right-handed starter Mike Fiers ahead of tomorrow’s contract tender deadline ahead of arbitration, according to Jake Kaplan of The Houston Chronicle. Fiers, 32, had an underwhelming 2017 season and was 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 153.1 innings and 28 starts. He led the AL with 13 hit batsmen and was left off the Astros’ postseason roster.
If GM Jeff Luhnow can work his magic and trade Fiers for a minimally respectable return package, he’ll further cement his status as a legend in Houston. The reality, however, is that he’ll likely have to sell remarkably low on Fiers and settle for low-level prospects. Otherwise, Fiers is a near-lock to not be tendered a contract after earning $3.45m last season.
Yusmeiro Petit signs with A’s
Just a few days after Doug Fister signed with the Texas Rangers, another free agency domino has fallen, albeit a tiny one. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, righty Yusmeiro Petit has agreed to a two-year, $10m contract with the Oakland A’s, pending a physical. Petit spent 2017 with the Los Angeles Angels and posted a 2.76 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 60 appearances, striking out 101 hitters in 91.1 innings.
Simply put, this is a great get for Oakland, who finished last in the AL West and needed to restock the bullpen after sending Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle to the Washington Nationals in a July trade. Petit, 33, had the best season of his career in 2017 and has also pitched for the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Nationals, and Giants. In 2013, he came within one out of a perfect game before allowing a single and then getting the subsequent out.
His days as a starter may be behind him but in cavernous Oakland Coliseum, count on Petit to be a shutdown arm out of the ‘pen.