Alex Cobb has reportedly made his contract wishes known, and Evan Altman of Cubs Insider writes that Cobb is willing to sign in the four-year, $70 million range, as first reported by Jon Heyman. Cobb has been most prominently linked to the Cubs, but the Cardinals, Rangers, Yankees, and Brewers have also checked in on the 30-year-old right-hander. Cobb is the youngest of a small group of top free-agent pitchers, including Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, and figures to do well in free agency.
Cobb enjoyed a solid walk year, but he doesn’t post elite strikeout totals, as does Darvish, for example. His health has been a concern in the past. Cobb went down on May 5, 2015, and subsequently had Tommy John surgery; he was on the disabled list until near the end of the 2016 season. In 2017, Cobb ended the season 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 177 innings. He has a career 48-35 record with a 3.50 ERA and 570 strikeouts in 115 starts.
Probably because Cobb still carries enough risk to limit the years and average annual value he would receive, there is speculation that the Cubs lowballed their $42 million, three-year offer to him. Altman speculates that the Cubs and Cobb may be able to bridge the gap of one year and the $28 million difference between them in light of Cobb’s recent confirmed demands.
The Cubs would seem to be the most obvious landing spot since Cobb is close to both Cubs manager Joe Madden and pitching coach Jim Hickey. Altman also speculates that Cobb’s value to the Cubs, unlike higher-priced pitchers such as Arrieta and Darvish, lies in allowing the Cubs the flexibility to still go out and get other big pieces as they see fit.
Cobb will be a solid second or third starter with whatever team is fortunate enough to land him. As well as being a top of the line starter, he is also a good clubhouse guy and was the winner of the Paul C. Smith champion award, which goes to the Rays player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.