Out of people he can anger here, Scott Boras looks to Japan

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Scott Boras is considering something unique with Stephen Strasburg:

This summer, Boras has another high-profile client, San Diego State
pitcher Stephen Strasburg, for whom he would love nothing more than to
blow apart baseball’s draft system, allowing Strasburg to be
compensated in line with his talent–his asking price is believed to be
around $50 million–as opposed to within the parameters of the current
system, in which no player has ever received more than $10.5 million.

Even before talks began with the Washington Nationals, who made
Strasburg the first overall pick June 9, Boras was dropping hints
privately that he is preparing to explore a new frontier in his ongoing
draft-busting crusade: Japan.

The general idea — which I doubt he’d actually consider as opposed to
simply threaten in an effort to gain leverage — is to have Strasburg
sign with a Japanese team, thereby ending his status as an amateur and
making his “residency” Japan for baseball purposes, all of which Boras
believes would take Strasburg out of the draft and allow him to become
a free agent.

If I were the Nationals I’d call that bluff in a second. Japanese
baseball is already extremely bent out of shape over its biggest stars
coming to the United States to play, so I really can’t feature them
taking too kindly to being used as a negotiation prop by Scott Boras.
The only way this would work is if the Japanese agreed to waive their
usual nine-year reserve system that keeps players locked up, and have
very little faith that they would do that in Strasburg’s case.

Report: Orioles interested in Alex Cobb

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MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.

Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.

It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.