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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Free agent Alex Cobb, Orioles have 4-year deal

It’s official. Is it enough to make the O’s contenders?

Jim Furtado Posted: March 21, 2018 at 07:12 AM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: alex cobb, free agents, orioles

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. The Ghost of Logan Schafer Posted: March 21, 2018 at 07:38 AM (#5640756)
Hopefully he won't go all Ubaldo on them (4 years / $50 million / ERA+=80 / WAR= .5 ).
   2. PreservedFish Posted: March 21, 2018 at 07:56 AM (#5640759)
Not much of a deal, it seems to me. This must have been much closer to his initial asking price than many of the other late FAs had to settle for. You kind of have to assume that he's going to continue to improve as he gets further away from that TJS.
   3. McCoy Posted: March 21, 2018 at 08:56 AM (#5640781)
And closer to a new one.
   4. Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: March 21, 2018 at 10:15 AM (#5640807)
Quite the stark difference between this and what Lynn settled for.
   5. Batman Posted: March 21, 2018 at 10:16 AM (#5640808)
If you don't count Charlie Blackmon, he's easily the second-best Cobb in baseball history.
   6. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 21, 2018 at 10:22 AM (#5640810)
Given that the Orioles are absolutely bereft of starting pitching, this deal makes sense.

   7. DCA Posted: March 21, 2018 at 10:24 AM (#5640811)
It would be interesting to know what Lynn turned down from the Orioles. He claimed that being on a competitive team was a deciding factor in going with the Twins for a 1-year deal. The Orioles are among the worst-positioned teams for success over the next 4 years.
   8. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 21, 2018 at 10:54 AM (#5640832)
It would be interesting to know what Lynn turned down from the Orioles. He claimed that being on a competitive team was a deciding factor in going with the Twins for a 1-year deal. The Orioles are among the worst-positioned teams for success over the next 4 years.

And what's even worse, their best young players aren't going to be around for very long, and you can almost see the downward spiral unfolding before your eyes.
   9. Fernigal McGunnigle Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:01 AM (#5640837)
If you don't count Charlie Blackmon, he's easily the second-best Cobb in baseball history.
Joe Cobb has a career OBP of 1.000. By rate, he's infinity percent better than Alex Cobb.

Kitty Brashear, aka Norman Cobb Brashear, played 9 seasons in the top levels of the minors (the Western League and the PCL) between 1901 and 1912. It's impossible to know for sure, but he might be a greater Cobb than Alex. But if Charlie Cobb Blackmon doesn't count then Kitty doesn't either.


   10. Batman Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:09 AM (#5640846)
If, over the next four years, Alex gets the 141 WAR he needs to pass his older brother Ty, the O's will have gotten their money's worth.
   11. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:52 AM (#5640900)
Not much of a deal, it seems to me.


Yeah, this seems like pretty fair value. Definitely fills a need, though.
   12. PreservedFish Posted: March 21, 2018 at 12:01 PM (#5640906)
If, over the next four years, Alex gets the 141 WAR he needs to pass his older brother Ty, the O's will have gotten their money's worth.


If he threw 200 innings of 0.00 ERA in each of those four years, how close would he get?
   13. Batman Posted: March 21, 2018 at 12:18 PM (#5640916)
Greinke has the two top WAR seasons of any active pitcher, with 10.4 in 2009 and 9.1 in 2015. The top season for anybody who's still alive is Gooden's 12.2 in 1985. The best ever was Pud Galvin's 20.5 in 1884. So Alex Cobb has his work cut out for him.
   14. asinwreck Posted: March 21, 2018 at 12:53 PM (#5640947)
Maybe Mike Trout gets 141 WAR in four years of Pecos League play. Not his first four years mind you, but a four-year stretch.
   15. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: March 21, 2018 at 01:12 PM (#5640971)
Quite the stark difference between this and what Lynn settled for.
This was the first thing I thought of. Cobb is better than Lynn, sure, but he's not 3-years and $45 million better. Lynn should light his agent on fire.
   16. Tom Nawrocki Posted: March 21, 2018 at 01:13 PM (#5640974)
I thought the Orioles were supposed to be tanking.
   17. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: March 21, 2018 at 01:32 PM (#5640990)
MLBTR top 10 free agents (not including Tanaka who didn't opt out);

Yu Darvish - predicted 6/160, got 6/126
JD Martinez - 6/150, 5/110
Eric Hosmer - 6/132, 8/144
Jake Arrieta - 4/100, 3/75
Mike Moustakos - 5/85, 1/7
Lorenzo Cain - 4/70, 5/80
Wade Davis - 4/60, 3/51
Lance Lynn - 4/56, 1/12
Greg Holland - 4/50, N/A
Alex Cobb - 4/48, 4/60

So after all the talk about collusion it seems that most of these guys got deals within reasonable distances of what was expected. Moose and Lynn are the outliers. Holland I am intrigued by because I wonder what if any offers he passed up.
   18. ThisElevatorIsDrivingMeUpTheWall Posted: March 21, 2018 at 02:17 PM (#5641038)
Maybe the Orioles are finally admitting that high draft picks are bigger crapshoots than any free agent who can pass their physicals.
   19. geonose Posted: March 21, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5641057)
Holland I am intrigued by because I wonder what if any offers he passed up.

Supposedly he turned down the same 3/51 offer that Davis accepted.
   20. JRVJ Posted: March 21, 2018 at 02:29 PM (#5641059)
This deal makes little sense to me from the Orioles perspective. Cobb at 4/50 (which seems to be the AAV because of delayed money) isn't bad, but what in the heck are the Orioles planning to do?

To me, this only makes sense if they are planning to go all-in this year, which presumably is the last year Machado plays in Baltimore. But if that's their strategy, they should have been much more aggressive in this market (and it's not like they "broke" Cobb, either).

Presumably Cobb will end up being traded once Machado is traded (or leaves). Maybe the Orioles will throw in some money to get some better prospects, but the way Balto is run, who the heck knows.
   21. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 21, 2018 at 02:37 PM (#5641064)
Hopefully he won't go all Ubaldo on them
Well, they have drugs now that are pretty effective in fighting male pattern Ubaldness.
   22. Batman Posted: March 21, 2018 at 02:40 PM (#5641068)
Well, they have drugs now that are pretty effective in fighting male pattern Ubaldness.
But more and more teams are catching on to Moneybald.
   23. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 21, 2018 at 03:03 PM (#5641085)

presumably is the last year Machado plays in Baltimore
GFY.
   24. Chris Fluit Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:02 PM (#5641134)
I'm excited about this signing. Cobb is the free agent pitcher I wanted Baltimore to pursue- knowing that Arrieta was never coming back and having no interest myself in Lynn. However, I'm a little nervous about the length of the deal. 4 years is a long-time, especially if Cobb doesn't work out. I'm guessing Baltimore had to commit to more years to keep the per-year dollar amount down but- knowing full well it's not my money- I'd rather have Cobb on a shorter deal at a higher rate.

As to the above question, "does this make them a contender?": Cobb by himself doesn't turn Baltimore from an also-ran to a contender. However, that's one fewer thing they need to worry about, one fewer thing they need to hope goes right. They're a better team than they were before the signing.
   25. Chris Fluit Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:05 PM (#5641137)
I thought the Orioles were supposed to be tanking.

Plenty of pundits want them to tank (Rosenthal, Olney, etc.) but the Orioles are still trying to win.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: March 21, 2018 at 04:30 PM (#5641155)
Yeah, the O's are always an oddly run team, at least partly due to Angelos. But maybe at this late point, they looked at the competition and realized they have a shot at the second wild card. Or just that, at 4/$50-60, Cobb's a bargain and, if he's healthy, they can trade him when things go south.

#17 -- you read those numbers a lot differently than I do. Not that there's any reason MLBTR should be taken as gospel or anything but ...

Darvish: -$34 M, or nearly $6 M per year -- massive
JDM: -1/$40 ... massive
Hosmer: call it flat
Arrieta: -1/$25 ... big
Moose: disaster
Cain: flat to small positive
Davis: flat to small positive
Lynn: massive
Holland: OK, he's probably just a moron
Cobb: flat to small positive (deferred money)

That's 4 guys who got about what we'd expect, one moron and 5 guys who got mauled. Note that Lynn, unless he gets hurt, at least has the chance to make back some of the $44 M he "lost" while Darvish never sees that $34 M again (unless there's a settlement). Only two guys signed for longer years than MLBTR projected and Hosmer sacrificed substantial AAV to do it (and Cain a little bit ... we've seen that before) while 4 guys got fewer years (not counting Davis who theoretically traded a year for a higher AAV).

So nothing but big, big negatives and a few flat to small positives. That's exactly what collusion looks like. Remember, Tim Raines still got a contract and he wasn't set free from it in the collusion ruling. By b-r, he was the 9th highest-paid player in the NL in 1987. The next season, "new-look" FA Kirk Gibson and NL MVP Andre Dawson signed contracts that paid them only a little more than Raines. By 1989, Raines was back to #8 which (per Wiki) was the last year of this contract. So two years in the top 10 in his league, one year just outside the top 10. Wiki says he was awarded $865,000 out of the collusion settlement -- about 16%. (The Expos extended him, a contract that put him #8 in the NL in 1990 and #5 in the AL in 1991.)

According to Wiki, in the 1986-87 collusion, FA contracts only fell by 16%, what Raines was awarded. Well, Darvish is down 20%, JDM 20%, Arrieta 25%, Lynn 75% and Moose 90% if we take those numbers. Moose is sort of this year's Dawson ... which pays a lot better these days. Wiki notes, the average ML salary went down in 1987 for the first time since FA had begun while revenues were up 15% ... sound familiar?

We never see iron-clad proof of collusion and this time the MLBPA might not be able to make a good case to the arbitrator ... but this is pretty much what collusion has looked like every time it's happened. A sudden drop in offers, guys stuck out on the market (remember Dawson had to come begging during spring training), guys signing for substantially less than expected but still getting "good" paydays.

Presumably teams are smart enough not to be so obvious about it ... although if the rumors about the lack of any offers are true, maybe not. They've always deployed the excuses about market corrections, sustainability, simultaneous but independent realization that things can't go on this way. There's really nothing about this FA market that looks substantially different than the times the owners have been caught colluding (or the times they weren't but later reached mysterious settlements with the MLBPA).

Wait and see, but I won't be surprised if a couple of years from now, MLB pays $150 M or so to MLBPA ... or there's a strike.
   27. Buck Coats Posted: March 21, 2018 at 05:15 PM (#5641177)
Plus that list doesn't include guys like Todd Frazier, Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Walker...
   28. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: March 21, 2018 at 06:03 PM (#5641223)
but the Orioles are still trying to win


could be them and Royals(who also appear to be trying to win) battling it out for the 2nd wildcard. Though the Twins and Angels may have something to say about that.

Baseball is a funny game. In the AL you'd think NY, Boston, Houston and Cleveland were locks at this stage, but you just never know. A few injuries here and there, some unexpected regression and one of the big 4 are looking at an 83 win season. Then there are 2 slots opened up for the 4 chasers.

   29. spycake Posted: March 21, 2018 at 07:01 PM (#5641244)
That's 4 guys who got about what we'd expect, one moron and 5 guys who got mauled. Note that Lynn, unless he gets hurt, at least has the chance to make back some of the $44 M he "lost" while Darvish never sees that $34 M again (unless there's a settlement).


FWIW, Darvish did get an opt-out. For that matter, so did JDM and Arrieta.
   30. spycake Posted: March 21, 2018 at 07:05 PM (#5641245)
Plus that list doesn't include guys like Todd Frazier, Carlos Gonzalez, Todd Walker


Todd Walker is actually 1 day younger than Bartolo Colon, you'd think he could get a minor league deal too. :)
   31. shoelesjoe Posted: March 21, 2018 at 07:23 PM (#5641249)
Last season Ubaldo, Miley, and Hellickson started 67 games for the Orioles, with only 18 quality starts between them. Cashner and Cobb had 33 QS in 2017, and assuming they’ll carry the bulk of those starts that went to UMH last year we can reasonably expect the team to win an additional 10 to 15 games, everything else being equal. 10 more wins than last year gets the Orioles to 85 which would have tied the Twins for the second WC, and 15 more wins would have put them just a game behind the Yankees for the first WC.

Of course everything in MLB is never equal from season to season. Maybe Gausmann’s arm falls off in April, or the Zach-less BP collapses before he recovers from his injury. No team can plan for every eventuality, but at the moment the Orioles have taken a major step in eliminating one of their glaring weaknesses from last year.
   32. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:05 PM (#5641353)
Todd Walker is actually 1 day younger than Bartolo Colon, you'd think he could get a minor league deal too. :)
Yeah, but you don't know if he's kept up his conditioning as well as Bartolo has.
   33. JRVJ Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:08 PM (#5641356)
We never see iron-clad proof of collusion and this time the MLBPA might not be able to make a good case to the arbitrator ... but this is pretty much what collusion has looked like every time it's happened. A sudden drop in offers, guys stuck out on the market (remember Dawson had to come begging during spring training), guys signing for substantially less than expected but still getting "good" paydays.

Presumably teams are smart enough not to be so obvious about it ... although if the rumors about the lack of any offers are true, maybe not. They've always deployed the excuses about market corrections, sustainability, simultaneous but independent realization that things can't go on this way. There's really nothing about this FA market that looks substantially different than the times the owners have been caught colluding (or the times they weren't but later reached mysterious settlements with the MLBPA).


I'm pretty sure you could build a solid argument that this is exactly what a market correction looks like. Which is why I want to see how next year's off-season plays out, to see if the market has, in fact, changed the way certain players are valued and paid.

As to a $150MM by MLB to MLBPA, MLB is so flush with cash that if that keeps MLBPA happy, they may just disburse that to ensure labor peace (i.e., I would certainly not interpret such a payment as an admission of collusion by MLB).
   34. DFA Posted: March 21, 2018 at 11:44 PM (#5641370)
It’s official. Is it enough to make the O’s contenders?


LOL. The Oriole rotation won't be unwatchable this year, so there's that.
   35. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: March 22, 2018 at 06:02 AM (#5641391)
Yeah, the O's are always an oddly run team, at least partly due to Angelos. But maybe at this late point, they looked at the competition and realized they have a shot at the second wild card. Or just that, at 4/$50-60, Cobb's a bargain and, if he's healthy, they can trade him when things go south.


Seems like Cobb gets at least partial no-trade protection, though, which to me makes this deal much worse. Baltimore becomes more limited in its options either if Cobb isn't great, or they aren't. Does anyone know the exact terms of the contract?
   36. Ben Broussard Ramjet Posted: March 22, 2018 at 08:35 AM (#5641401)
Answering my own question - I read elsewhere that it's full no-trade for a year, then a partial no-trade (10 teams) for the duration. Less bad, I suppose.
   37. Fancy Crazy Town Banana Pants Handle Posted: March 22, 2018 at 09:56 AM (#5641426)
That's 4 guys who got about what we'd expect, one moron and 5 guys who got mauled. Note that Lynn, unless he gets hurt, at least has the chance to make back some of the $44 M he "lost" while Darvish never sees that $34 M again (unless there's a settlement).

FWIW, Darvish did get an opt-out. For that matter, so did JDM and Arrieta.

JDM got three opt-outs. Hosmer also got one (with the PA very front-loaded to the 5 seasons pre opt-out). Those have massive value. I believe DJS dropped by in one of the Hosmer threads, and suggested that he estimated his opt-out to be worth about 25m (can't remember the exact range off the top of my head).

You also can't treat guesses from MLBTR like they are stone tablets handed down from Mt Sinai. Saying things like Darvish "lost" 34m is pure conjecture.

You also can't really say for sure how the strategy of players and agents worked out, without being sure what kind of offers were available earlier in the off-season. Waiting so long seems to be an intentional strategy (especially for Boras). But it is definitely a risky one. It pays off sometimes, like I would argue it did for Hosmer. But sometimes when you take risks, you end up getting burned.
   38. Sleepless in Munich Posted: March 22, 2018 at 10:02 AM (#5641428)
There's really nothing about this FA market that looks substantially different than the times the owners have been caught colluding (or the times they weren't but later reached mysterious settlements with the MLBPA).

I think that's a big oversell. There are at least two big differences:
- Both the FA markets of 1985-86 and 1986-87 were marked by a low number of FA switching teams, four each year (per Wikipedia). Out of the ten FA discussed here, only Moose stayed with his team.
- In 1986-87, three fourth of the FA signed one-year deals - that didn't happen this year.


But I think that misses the larger issue. Today, there are good explanations for the teams' behavior that weren't there in the 80's. Examples:
- The latest CBA has introduced a lot more teeth to the luxury tax and several teams have made moves to stay under the tax threshold. This includes the two biggest spenders of the last few seasons, the Dodgers and Yankees.
- Moose, unlike Dawson, is tied to a stiff signing penalty that is valued by teams of up to $13M. And that is exactly the kind of situation that should lead to a disappearing market.

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