Although the Tampa Bay Rays are hovering around the .500 mark, they still have an eye towards the future. As such, a report that the Rays may be gauging interest in Alex Cobb should not be that much of a surprise.
During the past offseason, Alex Cobb was one of the more persistent names to come up in trade rumors. As he had missed the majority of the past two seasons as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, and was a year away from free agency, it was expected that the Tampa Bay Rays would have interest in trading him. However, they resisted those efforts, refusing to sell low on a former top starter.
That decision to retain Cobb has worked out thus far. While he is still working his way back, Cobb has pitched relatively well thus far in 2017. He has posted a 4-3 record with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.243 WHiP, striking out 38 batters in 56.1 innings of work. Cobb has, however, reestablished himself as a solid middle of the rotation starter.
Given that start to the season, it is not a surprise that teams would still be interested in acquiring Cobb for a stretch run. As such, the Rays have reportedly reached out to a couple of teams to gauge their interest in Cobb. Or not. After all, the same report says that other team officials deny such talks as having occurred.
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Regardless of whether or not such conversations actually took place, it would make sense for the Rays to consider such a move. Chances are, they will not be able to retain Cobb after this season due to his presumed salary demands. Likewise, they have quite the crop of young arms on the cusp of reaching the majors. At some point, they will need to find room for a returning Blake Snell, Jose De Leon, and possibly Brent Honeywell and Chih-Wei Hu.
In moving Cobb, not only would a spot in the rotation open up for one of those prospects, but the Rays would be able to continue to replenish their farm system. Meanwhile, another prospect would get a look at the major league level, and even get a taste of a push to the postseason.
Obviously, a lot can change in the coming months. If the Rays do go on a run and are right in the thick of postseason contention, it makes sense to retain a proven arm in Cobb. Likewise, if they start to struggle and fall out of contention, there is no question that Cobb will be on the move.
It certainly does not hurt to lay the groundwork for a possible trade a couple of months before the deadline. if the Tampa Bay Rays do end up moving Alex Cobb, these alleged conversations could have an impact upon the return and expedience of the deal.