Alex Cobb’s disappointing time in Baltimore appears to have come to an end, as Dan Connolly of The Athletic first reported that the Orioles and Angels were in talks to deal the righty out west. Things have crystallized a bit since this morning, as Ken Rosenthal reports that the O’s are getting second baseman Jahmai Jones, LAA’s 2015 second-round pick. The Birds are also on the hook for half of Cobb’s $15M 2021 salary.
Cobb almost seems like a relic from another time, for so many reasons. Dan Duquette signed him in March of 2018 for four years and $57 million, as part of a last-ditch effort to “go for it” one more time with a core group of players that had reached the AL Wild Card game in 2016, then contended (again, for a Wild Card) until late in 2017. No, really…believe it or not, they were 71-69 on September 7, before losing 18 of their final 22 games to finish 75-87. Cobb was awful in 2018, going 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA, a far cry from the 3.66 ERA he manged in his final season for the Tampa Bay Rays. His Baltimore tenure was marred by injuries, as he appeared in just 13 games over his final two seasons as an Oriole.
Another success story to add to the long list on the “O’s Trying to Buy Pitching!” wall of shame!
Seriously, if Cobb had been on teams that were decent, he would be thought of in Birdland about the same as Ubaldo Jimenez is. However, because the Birds have been an afterthought during his entire tenure, Cobb is as well.
Since Cobb was signed, that entire aforementioned core of players has departed (except of course for Chris Davis), the Birds have fully committed to the rebuild under new management, and oh yeah, we’ve dealt with a goddamn pandemic and a shortened season with no fans in the stands. So you’d be forgiven for not having a whole lot of emotional reaction to the idea that you’ll never get to see Cobb take the hill at The Yard again.
Looking forward, the O’s get Jones, the Angels’ #7 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. Here’s a snippet of their scouting report:
Some of Jones’ struggles early in 2019 point to things he needs to work on, but some of it was pure bad luck. He showed his characteristic good plate discipline and was making consistent hard contact, but he was nonetheless registering low BABIP. His hard work and willingness to make adjustments paid off as he posted an .881 OPS in August then hit .302/.377/.509 in the AFL. There’s plenty of bat speed and some extra-base authority to still tap into at the plate.
Jones began his pro career in the outfield, but moved to his high school position at second base in 2018. He started getting some time back in the outfield in 2019 and in the AFL, something that will increase in 2020 as he adds more versatility to his game. If Jones can carry his end-of-year confidence over, he still has the tools to be a solid big league regular.
It’s a bit heartening to see that the O’s were open to paying some of Cobb’s remaining salary in order to get a better deal from the Angels, especially considering some of the…odd…cost-cutting measures they have been displaying so far this offseason.
Happy trails, Alex. “The Thing” was cool…sometimes. I guess.