Orioles agree to terms on a four-year, $57 million deal with Alex Cobb pending physical - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Orioles agree to terms on a four-year, $57 million deal with Alex Cobb pending physical

Photo credit: Rick Osentoski - USA Today Sports

The Orioles have been looking for rotation help all winter, and on the first day of spring, with snow falling in Baltimore, they landed one of the more attractive pitching options in the 2017-18 free agent class.

According to industry sources, the Orioles have agreed to a four-year, $57 million deal with right-hander Alex Cobb, who was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2017. The contract, which includes salary deferrals, is the largest in club history for a free-agent pitcher.

Nothing has been announced by the team until Cobb, 30, completes his physical Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla. That’s never a slam-dunk process with the Orioles, who are meticulous when it comes to examinations, but no issues are anticipated.

Cobb seemingly had been out of the Orioles’ price range for most of this offseason, to the point where the Orioles did not seriously pursue the right-hander for much of the winter, hoping his demands would change. As Opening Day neared, and other starters fell off the board, Cobb’s initial asking price dropped to a point where the Orioles felt more comfortable.

The four-year pact is surprising because the Orioles’ policy has been to avoid free-agent contracts beyond three years. The only time they altered that philosophy was in 2014, when they signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million deal that will go down as one of the worst in club history. It no longer will be the largest given by the Orioles to a free agent pitcher, however.

A former fourth-round pick of the Rays in 2006, Cobb was one of the best young pitchers in the American League East before undergoing elbow-ligament (Tommy John) surgery in May 2015. He returned to pitch five games with the Rays at the end of 2016 and then pitched all last season, allowing 175 hits and 44 walks while striking out 128 batters in 179 1/3 innings.

When official, Cobb would become the third starting pitcher the Orioles have signed since spring training began. They agreed to a two-year, $16 million deal with right-hander Andrew Cashner and a one-year, $3 million deal to re-sign Chris Tillman.

Tilman is one of three holdovers – along with Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy – from a 2017 rotation that posted the worst ERA in club history.

Cobb will be a major part of the rotation going forward, but he won’t be part of  the Opening Day roster. Although he still has a minor league option remaining, he could refuse an assignment to the minors due to his service time. So, the sides have an agreement in place that Cobb will go to the minors for roughly a couple weeks to start this season so he can get stretched out before joining the Orioles. It makes perfect sense.

The Orioles will also have to surrender their third pick (second round) of the 2018 amateur draft because of signing Cobb, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Rays. That figures to be roughly the 52nd pick this June (the Orioles have a compensatory pick after the first round that counts toward which pick is forfeited. If that compensatory pick is traded away — and those can and have been dealt — then the Orioles would forfeit their their round pick — late 80s — for the Cobb  signing). The Rays will get a pick in the compensation phase of the first round, approximately the 35th pick. They don’t get any picks originally assigned to the Orioles.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cobb is 48-30 with a 3.50 ERA in 115 big league games, all starts, in parts of six years. He is 23-19 with a 3.10 ERA in 58 starts at pitcher friendly Tropicana Field in his career and 25-16 with a 3.91 ERA in 57 road games.

He’s pitched well against the Orioles – 6-2 with a 2.70 in 12 overall starts – but is 3-1 with a 4.62 ERA in seven starts at Camden Yards. In 37 innings in Baltimore, Cobb has allowed 44 hits, 13 walks and struck out 30 batters in 37 innings pitched.

Against the AL East in his career, Cobb is 21-13 with a 3.08 ERA in 48 starts versus the Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. His career ERA is below 3.50 against each of the division rivals.

The following outlets had pieces of the developing story first: Yahoo Sports, The Athletic, MASNSports, FanRag Sports and 670thescore.

40 Comments

40 Comments

  1. Wade Warren

    March 20, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    hi Dan. Nice write up

  2. ATCguy

    March 20, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    Ok, wait… not that I think Cobb would be this great messiah, but… it’s not April 1at yet, is it?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:02 am

      It’s not. Or March 29.

  3. Birdman

    March 20, 2018 at 7:01 pm

    Kudos to Angelos and the Orioles front office if this report turns out to be correct. I have been very critical of the Orioles apparent unwillingness to spend enough to field a competitive team. As a fan, I will be glad if I am proven wrong.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:02 am

      It’s correct. Waiting on physical. But correct.

  4. 5brooks5

    March 20, 2018 at 7:26 pm

    The physical is the big elephant in the room

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:03 am

      Hearing it shouldn’t be a problem. But ya never know.

  5. Raymo

    March 20, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Should we be excited? His 2017 WHIP was 1.22, and his career WHIP at Camden Yards was 1.54. I guess we should!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:03 am

      Certainly an upgrade, regardless.

  6. Steve Cockey

    March 20, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    Cobb last year:

    1st half: 5.93 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, 45.4 GB%
    2nd half: 7.31 K/9, 1.97 BB/9, 52.3 GB%

    Doesn’t mean much, but in his first full season after Tommy John, it’s nice to see the improvement as the year went on.

    Should we expect substantial deferrals in this deal?

  7. Orial

    March 20, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Astounding. Yes the physical is important. Angelos showed us all something. I don’t even think it’s a reach to say wild card(2nd WC at least) now.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:04 am

      They’ll certainly be more competitive than we initially thought.

  8. Bancells Moustache

    March 20, 2018 at 8:04 pm

    Orange colored glasses wiped clean, put on and help in place with a pair of Orioles logo emblazoned Croakies:

    If Bundy and Gausman reach their potential, Cobb and Cashner remain solid and Tilly removes his head from… well, this rotation could not just be good but downright filthy,

    If Trumbo, Davis and Machado hit the ball the way they’ve shown they can, the Orioles have the firepower to go toe to toe with Judge, Stanton and Sanchez.

    If Anthony Santander keeps up his momentum, he could be the Orioles second consecutive ROTY finalist.

    (Cue up the old “What and difference a day makes” song in the background)

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:04 am

      Is that optimism, Stache? I’m not sure I like it.

  9. Eldersburg Enigma

    March 20, 2018 at 8:18 pm

    This is the dream! So many pieces to unload for good prospects st the deadline!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:05 am

      There’s that, too. But it might make the Orioles good enough to hang — and not dump.

  10. JParsley

    March 20, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    I am pleasantly surprised. with a decent starting 5 and a strong pin maybe this year won’t be so bad after all. as long as the pitchers do what they are capable of. Go Os

  11. Schwarzstop

    March 20, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    Absolutely Shocked!!! Pleasantly Shocked but Shocked! Awaiting the formal announcement and the all important physical before getting excited!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:06 am

      Should come Wednesday.

  12. Mr Will

    March 20, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    FINALLY! Now the Os have a fighting chance. Now can they be smart elsewhere. I see where Turner (former O and now Dodger 3b has what appears to be a broken hand. Dodgers have money and could use Manny…DD it’s at least worth a phone call.
    I have been examining Os 40 man roster and it will be interesting to see how this is played. Trumbo and Ynoa can start on DL as for certain Rasmus and Valencia should be placed on the 40 man along with Cobb.
    Hopefully Cobb will be available by April 10 or whenever a fifth starter is needed at earliest in season. This one signing completely changes one important thing…the attitude and support of the Baltimore fans. This is probably not enough to overcome Yanks, Sox, Indians, Astros or Rangers/Angels but a play in game is not out of reason.
    If this is DD’s last year at least he is making it interesting and competitive for the team and thank you Mr Angelos
    Mr Will

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:07 am

      He’ll start in the minors and build up his strength for a couple weeks. And Turner is only out a few weeks.

  13. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    March 20, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Wow what a shocker. I am glad we signed him. We needed another veteran starter. This makes up for the 1 1/2 hr tie up on the Skyway Bridge and eventual rainout. Almost a FUBAR day. Nice write up.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:08 am

      Can’t control the rain. Glad I gave ya something to read.

  14. PA Bird Lover

    March 20, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Thank you PA

  15. karks

    March 20, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    I’m really thrilled if this goes through. It guarantees nothing but at least this team is making a move to try and win this year. Cobb has plenty of talent and would just do so much for this rotation.

    So, does he have to stay in extended spring training for a bit to start the year?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:08 am

      Yeah or affiliated minors. Just to get stretched out.

  16. TxBirdFan

    March 20, 2018 at 10:26 pm

    We couldn’t have asked for or expected a better rotation. If the relievers come thru and we come out of the gate hitting well, it will make for a much more interesting season. Nice job DD and Mr A – now Cobb needs to pass a physical

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:09 am

      Should be done Wednesday.

  17. Homerago

    March 20, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    I had predicted that we would get Archer, some how. Well, Alex is just as good, if not better. I am thrilled!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:09 am

      Dunno about better. Both good pitchers. I’d probably take Archer given a choice.

  18. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 20, 2018 at 11:48 pm

    So where does this leave Mike Wright?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 1:10 am

      Fighting for a pen spot.

  19. BdH

    March 21, 2018 at 1:48 am

    It’s funny how over blown nearly everything can get. Makes me wonder if the O’s physical is stricter than any other club, or if we dodged a bullet and bad publicity misguided the masses. I guess we would suck at physicals if those signings that everyone refers to actually went through without failing. Anyway, I’m sure Cobb will pass. I just hope he can last. A good move for the fans for sure.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 21, 2018 at 11:25 am

      He passed. And to be fair. Orioles are usually right on their physical assessments.

  20. herryjames

    April 8, 2018 at 11:44 am

    goog to know

    http://www.exmm.com

  21. herryjames

    April 9, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Finally the Os have a good chance this time, but still I am surprised. They have good starting 5 and a strong pin. I hope this they won’t be too bad in terms of performance. Pitchers will do what they will be able to do.
    https://www.americanseats.com/

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