Beat writers would rather move to another continent than cover the Nationals

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Anyone who has a strong enough constitution to be able to follow the Washington Nationals on a day-in-day-out basis knows that the only nice thing about it is getting to read Chico Harlan, who covers them for the Washington Post. He writes one of your better big-paper-affiliated baseball blogs, and always seems to have his team notes up before guys at other papers do.  He’s a good writer who makes reading up on the Nats tolerable, which is no average feat.

Apparently Chico can’t bear to watch the Nats any longer, however, as he has accepted an assignment that will take him as physically far from Nationals baseball as one can get without actually leaving the planet: Asia correspondent.

Rest easy now, Chico. The Nationals will be fast asleep for most of the time you’re awake. They can’t hurt you anymore.

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.