The Braves have dug themselves a big enough hole already, so they certainly didn’t need to add to the difficulty. But they did anyway. Inadvertently, of course, but possibly disastrously: Martin Prado hurt his hip while swinging at a pitch in the fifth. It’s been diagnosed as a hip pointer, and he “may be out awhile,” according to Bobby Cox.
Of course, the Braves don’t have “awhile.” They have five games left and they’re tied in the loss column with the Padres for the wild card. Their replacement for Prado will be Brooks Conrad. You might remember Conrad hitting big, late-inning pinch-hit home runs against the Reds and Astros earlier this season. Which were great. But a team that was already depending on guys like Omar Infante (i.e. nice players who are being stretched beyond their capabilities), they don’t need to be depending on even more of them.
If the Braves do make the playoffs, it will be after spending a big portion of the season with a lineup consisting of a ton of guys who would be bench players on most playoff teams and with a rotation with at least two pitchers who likely would have ended on AAA rosters for most clubs.
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.