As expected, the Tampa Bay Rays extended a $17.4-Million qualifying offer to 30 year-old free-agent right-hander Alex Cobb this afternoon. We first wrote about the likelihood of this move Sunday evening. The team, however, did not make a qualifying offer to 1B Logan Morrison. They also made a bevy of roster moves to clear up space on the 40-man roster ahead of the 2017 Rule-5 Draft.
Cobb is a free agent this offseason after spending his first six big league seasons with the Rays. In his second season removed from Tommy John Surgery, the right-hander made 29 starts and went 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA/4.16 FIP (4.24 xFIP) with 128 strikeouts over 179-1/3 innings. He was good at inducing ground balls (47.8% GB%) — something that is highly coveted by most teams league wide — and limiting walks (2.21 BB/9), although he lagged in the strikeout department last season, culling a 6.42 K/9 which was down from his career 7.33 K/9. The drop in Cobb’s strikeout rate is largely attributed to the absence of his much ballyhooed changeup which he had a hard time regaining the feel for after undergoing the knife in 2015. He made up for the loss with his curveball, as well as a two-seam fastball that he mixed in every now and then.
The qualifying offer is a one-year deal worth $17.4-Million for 2018, the average salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players. If Cobb turns it down and signs elsewhere, Tampa Bay would receive a 2018 draft pick as compensation.
However, there is a caveat. As Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) explained, the Rays, as a revenue sharing recipient, would get a compensation pick after the first round of the 2018 draft if Cobb signs for $50-Million plus, a pick after the second round if less. Cobb and his agent have until November 16 to decide whether to take the qualifying offer and stay with the Rays for one more season (thus becoming a free agent following 2018) or test the free agent market now.
Cobb told the Times that he was humbled by the Rays’ decision to extend the offer:
It’s extremely humbling and I’m very honored to receive such an offer from the Rays. Obviously I get the business side of it and reasons behind making the offer, but obviously there’s still a lot of confidence in me that they made that offer. I look forward to talking to my agents and figuring out what will be the best route going forward.
Rays General Manager Erik Neander also spoke about their decision to make the offer:
Alex is a winning player, and with what he has demonstrated throughout his time here, in terms of on-field talent and leadership, he is every bit deserving of this offer. Alex has the next decision in this process and we’re prepared for the potential outcomes that come with it.
Coming off a breakout 38-homer season, it was somewhat surprising that the Rays didn’t also extend a qualifying offer to Morrison. Yet the cost-conscious team couldn’t stomach paying a combined $35-Million for the pair in the event that both accepted the deal. LoMo will enter free agency — along with six other free-agents — freed of the burden of a compensatory draft pick.
The Rays also cleared four roster spots Monday afternoon by outrighting C Curt Casali, OF Cesar Puello, and RHP Shawn Tolleson — each of whom are now minor league free agents. Meanwhile, Taylor Gurrieri was acquired by the Toronto Blue Jays on a waiver claim.
We have extended a qualifying offer to free agent RH Alex Cobb and made the following moves today. pic.twitter.com/Vd3jTpxLNI
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) November 6, 2017
Casali was a September call up for Tampa Bay, going 3-for-9 with a homer. In short, while Casali was the primary catcher in 2016, the team parted ways with him as he became expendable with the platoon of Wilson Ramos/Jesus Sucre behind the plate. Puello was acquired from the Angels off waivers on August 19th, although he went just 6-for-30 over 16 games. Tolleson underwent Tommy John surgery on May 17th, and he did not throw a pitch for the Rays this past season.
Guerrieri was slated to be the next big thing for the Rays when he was drafted in 2011, however, his loss further weakens return of that particular draft class, when they had 10 of first 60 picks (also including Blake Snell).
The Rays had high hopes for Guerrieri in 2011 when he was selected in the first round, writes Neil Solondz (Rays Radio). Guerrieri, who turns 25 in December, has had a tough time staying healthy.
Guerrieri surpassed 100 innings just once in the last six seasons. He threw only 9.1 innings last year due to arm issues, and spent most of 2014 recovering from Tommy John surgery. Guerrieri made his Triple-A debut last year, he has just one option remaining. When healthy, Guerrieri was effective, going 25–13 with a 2.51 ERA, but he threw only 361.2 innings, or just over 60 per year.
Solondz also noted that reducing the roster to 32 doesn’t mean the Rays will protect eight minor league players on November 20th, although there are certainly numerous qualified candidates. Protecting less than that number would cushion and maneuverability for trades or free agent signings.
— Tuesday is the mayoral election in St. Petersburg. Your choices are progressive candidate whose record has been smudged by a waste water crisis not of his making (Rick Kriseman), or a regressive contender whose record had been spotty in his first turns as the mayor in the early aughts (Rick Baker).
I feel as though I previously made a pretty good argument for why you shouldn’t vote for Baker.
The choice is yours, do what thou wilt.