The Rangers were trying to get Oswalt even after they landed Lee

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We knew that the Rangers were interested in Oswalt, but we didn’t realize he was this interested: according to Ken Rosenthal, the Rangers re-visited earlier talks with the Astros regarding Roy Oswalt after acquiring Cliff Lee.

There was no way it was going to happen — it was hard enough for them to take on the relatively minor money owed Lee, so putting Oswalt’s contract on top of that was a non-starter — but they pursued it anyway, Rosenthal says.

Animating the apparently hopeless pursuit of Oswalt? Nolan Ryan is simply fixated on the guy.  That’s what a little bird told me anyway. Ryan sees a lot of himself in Oswalt, both as a pitcher and as a guy in general, and has long wanted Oswalt to play for him.  Crushes die hard, ya know?

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.