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Reports say Baltimore Orioles working to trade starter Alex Cobb to Angels

JON MEOLI
The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
Alex Cobb

The Baltimore Orioles are working to trade right-hander Alex Cobb to the Los Angeles Angels, according to multiple reports including The Athletic, continuing an offseason in which the club’s moves have given the appearance of cutting costs at every turn.

Cobb signed a four-year, $57 million contract ahead of the 2018 season as part of the Orioles’ last desperate grasp at contention. He started slow that year but finished well as the team began its rebuild, then missed almost all of 2019 with injuries related to a hip issue that ultimately required surgery. Cobb was better in 2020, with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in 10 starts.

Speaking virtually when baseball’s winter meetings would have been held in December, General manager Mike Elias talked down the idea that Cobb would be a trade piece for the team.

Elias allowed that an established pitcher on a one-year deal would “attract a lot of interest,” but concluded it “would be beneficial for us to go into the season with Alex if that’s the way that it shakes out, having that front-end spot in the rotation fortified with his ability and veteran presence.”

Elias said: “He’s serving a very important role in our team, stabilizing our rotation with the young guys, mentoring the young guys, and we’re planning on keeping him all year. We’d be thrilled if he could be contributing and is healthy again like he was last year, and stabilize the entire rotation in that way.”

The veteran right-hander is owed $15 million in 2021, with $4.5 million of that deferred, and has a 10-team no-trade clause, though it’s unclear whether the Angels are on it. His trade lowers the Orioles’ expected payroll to around $50 million, with nearly half that tied up in first baseman Chris Davis. Davis is not expected to play a significant role on the team.

Trading Cobb would leave former All-Star John Means as the only established starter in the Orioles rotation. Rookies Dean Kremer, Keegan Akin, and Bruce Zimmermann joined the rotation last summer and are in line for roles in 2021, while waiver claim Jorge López and Rule 5 picks Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells could figure into the starter mix. The Orioles added starters Michael Baumann, Alexander Wells, and Zac Lowther to the 40-man roster in the fall.

The Orioles and Angels have found plenty of occasion to trade lately. Last winter, the Orioles sent Dylan Bundy to Los Angeles for four pitching prospects: right-handers Kyle Bradish, Isaac Mattson, Zach Peek, and Kyle Brnovich. Bradish impressed at the secondary camp this summer, while Mattson, a reliever, was added to the 40-man roster in the all.

In December, the Orioles traded shortstop José Iglesias to the Angels for a pair of pitching prospects in right-handers Garrett Stallings and Jean Pinto. In that case, the Orioles had just picked up Iglesias’ $3.5 option for the 2021 season a month earlier. Elias called him a “perfect fit” for the team at the time of that move, but ultimately took the Angels’ offer and replaced him with Freddy Galvis for $1.5 million.

Iglesias isn’t the only starting infielder who won’t be back in 2021, either. Second baseman Hanser Alberto was owed a raise through salary arbitration, but instead wasn’t tendered a contract. He agreed to a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals Sunday. Designated hitter Renato Núñez also was due a raise through arbitration but was instead released.