Report: Byrnes and Alderson have Backman on short list for next Mets manager

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The Mets’ GM search is marching towards its conclusion, as former Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes and former Athletics GM and Padres CEO Sandy Alderson appear to be the finalists for the position.

It’s all speculation until the team names a general manager, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has an interesting piece of information regarding who may be on the short list to be the club’s next manager.

Both Alderson and Byrnes presented lists of four or five managerial candidates in their initial interviews. Each of their lists included Mets Class A manager Wally Backman, sources said.

I can see how some people may have a problem with this. And I’m not even talking about his history with domestic violence. I’m talking about the perception battle. By now, we know that the Mets like Backman. He appears to be in good standing with the organization after leading the Brooklyn Cyclones to a division title. It’s very possible that Byrnes and Alderson value him too, but should Backman end up getting hired, the public perception will be that ownership led the new GM to their first significant decision. That’s probably not a good idea.

The full-autonomy tag is silly anyway, as I realize that ownership is in on almost every significant decision, but the Mets have been losing this perception battle for years now. Part of this offseason facelift must be about attempting to change that perception, perhaps more than the actual players on the field.

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.