The Milwaukee Brewers have addressed some of the depth questions regarding of their starting rotation this winter with the recent signings of Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo. The club now has a group of arms in-house that should be able to form a serviceable rotation, but with Jimmy Nelson set to begin the 2018 season on the shelf there is still need for top-end pitcher. According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com, the Brewers remain on the lookout for upgrades to their starting staff and have been in touch recently with the representatives for one of the top hurlers on the free agent market:
#Brewers and Alex Cobb’s representatives have been in touch recently, source says. Division rival #Cubs viewed as one favorite to sign Cobb, in part because of connection to new pitching coach Jim Hickey. @MLB @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 31, 2017
We profiled Cobb, who recently turned 30 years old, as a potential free agent target for the Brewers early on in the offseason. He’s pitched an even 700.0 MLB innings with a 3.50 ERA and 74 DRA- along with marks of 7.3 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, as well as a 55% ground ball rate. He has had some troubles staying healthy, however, including a Tommy John procedure that cost him nearly all of the 2015 and 2016 seasons. He did record a career-high 179.1 innings in 2017, though, while producing a 3.66 ERA, 86 DRA-, and 3.0 WARP. His velocity has remained steady since returning from his elbow surgery, but last season Cobb greatly reduced the usage of his splitter and saw his strikeout rate and swinging strike rate drop to career-low levels.
Cobb rejected a Qualifying Offer on his way out of Tampa Bay, so he would cost the Brewers their Competitive Balance Round B pick if he were to sign in the Cream City. He has reportedly been seeking a four or five-year contract in free agency and some believe he may ultimately land a deal similar to the five-year, $80 mil pact that Mike Leake scored two winters ago. The division-rival Cubs have been the most oft-linked team to Cobb this winter largely due to the former Ray’s relationships with Joe Maddon and Jim Hickey, but it is worth noting that Milwaukee’s front office has a connection to the right-hander as well. Assistant GM Matt Arnold rose through the ranks from scout to executive with Tampa Bay while Cobb was climbing the minor league ladder and ultimately entrenching himself in the Rays’ MLB rotation.
Cobb was considered to be one of the top arms available on the free agent market when the offseason began, along with Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, and Lance Lynn. All four pitchers remain unsigned as 2017 draws to a close.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Prospectus