Even after missing out on Shohei Ohtani, signing Tyler Chatwood means the Cubs only have one spot in the rotation to fill. And while tweets from beat writers have people frothing at the mouth to trade for Chris Archer, it sounds like the Cubs are staying the course in their mission to add starters. Which is to say they’re all over Alex Cobb.
The former Rays pitcher is very familiar with Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey, both of whom counted him as a pupil during their days in Tampa, and is seeking a team that offers him both comfort and a chance to win. The Cubs can do that, but so can several other teams. The Yankees in particular have frequently been mentioned as a serious suitor for Cobb’s services and they just added fellow former Floridian Giancarlo Stanton.
It seems odd that the Winter Meetings are a line of demarcation when it comes to free agency, but there’s no doubt that the summit serves as a veritable powder keg of activity each year. It’s like spring break for baseball execs and agents, a time to come together and get down to serious-ass bidness [sic] in an abbreviated timeframe.
As such, the urgency increases for those teams that are looking to land a specific player. For the Cubs, that player is Cobb. He would round out their rotation and he comes with built-in familiarity, which is a nice plus. But it’s not a guarantee, particularly as teams converge on Orlando with an eye toward making the moves that they hope will vault them over the top.
Bruce Levine writes that the Cubs are still making a “strong push” for Cobb in an attempt to secure his services before someone else can.
The rumors on a Cobb-Cubs marriage have been out there for several months, and with the Winter Meetings starting Monday, Chicago would like land Cobb as quickly as possible to avoid any traps and new suitors that may await in the next week.
Listen, this thing about trying to lock Cobb down quickly isn’t a new concept. It’s obvious enough that even we had it figured out several days ago. But as they head into the Winter Meetings, the Cubs know that filling out their rotation would allow them more freedom and security to make other moves to fill out the roster.
Cobb isn’t going to come super cheap by any means, but the Cubs can easily afford what figures to be $15-16 million or so AAV over the next four years. That would ensure that their entire rotation is locked up through 2020, a nice luxury to have as they continue to shift the focus of the farm system to stud pitchers rather than position players.
Getting Cobb in the fold would also give the Cubs clarity when it comes to their payroll obligations. Not that they’ve got any real issues in that regard, but it’s good to know where and how you can drop a couple million extra here and there.
While it’s far from a guarantee that they’ll land him, Cobb appears to be the Cubs’ top target at this point. After that, the focus shifts to Brandon Morrow, Addison Reed, Bryan Shaw, etc.
If it feels like the Cubs are laying off the throttle a little bit here, that’s because they are. But signing Cobb and bringing in a reliever or two after him would make for a successful, if perphaps somewhat boring, Winter Meetings.