The Baltimore Orioles finally made their big splash when it comes to free agent pitchers. Alex Cobb‘s deal is signed, sealed, and delivered – pending a physical. That’s always an important part when it comes to the Orioles. (And just to be clear, the Orioles do tend to scrutinize physicals more than do other teams; but the caution of their doctors has also proven to be right over time.) But the O’s aren’t anticipating any issues popping up.
This is an incredibly late signing for sure. But the fact is that lots of free agents are still out there given the inactivity of the league as a whole. Cobb’s deal is for four years and approximately $56 million. Some of that money is also to be deferred. The Orioles tended to not want to offer a deal that long, however the fact is that they got their man.
Cobb does have a minor league option remaining, however due to his amount of service time he has the option of refusing a minor league option. However it’s believed that there’s a clause in the contract whereby he’ll go to the minors for a short period to begin the year. After all, he’s coming in at the very tail end of camp and has to get game ready.
So what does this do to the rotation and the guys already in camp? Needless to say, the likes of Bundy, Gausman, Tillman, and Cashner are going to be starters. Once Cobb takes his spot on the roster, that will even out the five starters. So that means that the work done by the likes of Castro, Cortes, and others thus far in camp is now even more important. They’re battling for spots in the bullpen, which is how that work will be viewed.
Having a starter such as Cobb will also take pressure off of the bullpen, given that they presumably won’t be as taxed in terms of having to work more innings. And that’s a good thing for everyone involved. Does this move put the Birds in a spot whereby they’re guaranteed a division crown? No. But does it make them more competitive and does it put them in the thick of the wild card race (on paper)? I believe that it does.