Jack Cust was non-tendered by the A’s last week, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that he’ll remain in the AL West and sign a one-year contract with the Mariners worth $2.5 million in base salary.
Cust has seen his power numbers decline in three straight seasons, but he remains a walk machine who gets on base at a good clip despite low batting averages and tons of strikeouts.
Among all hitters with at least 400 plate appearances this year Cust ranked 10th in baseball with a .395 on-base percentage and his .834 OPS would’ve been the highest on the Mariners by nearly 100 points.
He’s a flawed player whose production has dipped a bit, but Cust is certainly a very solid designated hitter option on an inexpensive one-year commitment and the Mariners’ lineup can obviously use all the help it can get. He’ll likely hit under .250 in Seattle and the signing won’t look so good if Cust ends up seeing significant action in the field, but he’ll draw a ton of walks, post an OBP among the AL leaders, and smack 20-plus homers.
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.