Baltimore Orioles Sign Starting Pitcher Alex Cobb to Four-Year Deal


The Baltimore Orioles have signed former Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb to a deal believed to be four years and worth close to $60 million.

The Baltimore Orioles have signed former Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb to a deal believed to be four years and worth close to $60 million, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, on Twitter.

The Baltimore Orioles have been interested in Cobb for a long time, as well as Lance Lynn, who signed with the Minnesota Twins this offseason. This is the second starting pitcher the Baltimore Orioles have signed this offseason who’s likely to start the year in their rotation, the other being Andrew Cashner.

Cobb, 30, has had some significant success in the major leagues. He came up through the Rays organization and had two straight excellent years with them in 2013 and 2014, pitching to a 2.76 and 2.87 ERA respectively.

Cobb sat out all of 2015 after having Tommy John surgery and only pitched 22 innings in 2016. Last season was his first full season pitching since his surgery, and while he wasn’t back to pre-surgery form, he was still excellent, going 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP, and a 6.42 K/9.

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While those numbers look pretty good (certainly good compared to the Baltimore Orioles’ staff), there’s some reason to be concerned that regression is in order for Cobb this upcoming season. While he did have a 3.66 ERA last year, he also had a 4.16 FIP, a 4.45 bbFIP, and a 4.48 SIERA.

There’s also the fact that he saw a significant drop in his K/9, which previously had hovered around 8.00. A 6.42 K/9 is fairly below average, but it was just one season, it’s entirely possible that he could work on his stuff and get the strikeouts back up.

As for his repertoire, Cobb throws a mix of three pitches: A fastball that averages around 92 MPH (which he threw over 50% of the time last year), a curveball that averages around 81 MPH, and a changeup that averages around 86 MPH.

Cobb’s curveball is his putaway pitch, and it’s an impressive pitch. Here it is striking out Baltimore Orioles outfielder Seth Smith last year:

Cobb is a good pitcher, there’s no doubt about that, but the deal the Orioles are signing him to is a lot of money, more than the four-years, $48 million that MLBTradeRumors predicted he’d get at the beginning of the offseason.

I worry that this is a repeat of the Ubaldo Jimenez mistake. It’s easy to forget that Jimenez had a 3.30 ERA the year before the Orioles signed him. Now, Cobb has had more consistent success, so I don’t necessarily think this will be Ubaldo 2.0, but there’s certainly a lot of risk in this signing.

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I’d project Cobb to end the year next year with an ERA around 4.00, a K/9 in the 6.80-7.00 range, and a WHIP around 1.20. That’s a perfectly fine pitcher, but not quite worth what the Orioles will be paying him.