Rays officially sign Felipe Lopez to a minor league contract

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Felipe Lopez and the Rays officially agreed to a minor-league contract today. He’ll get an invitation to spring training and compete for a bench job, but because it’s not a major-league deal the Red Sox won’t receive a compensatory draft pick for letting him go.

Boston signed Lopez as a free agent in late September, bought out the 2011 option on his contract for $15,000, and then offered him arbitration knowing he would decline. And it almost got them a “free” draft pick between the first and second rounds, except the market for Lopez was incredibly weak after he wore out his welcome with Tony La Russa and the Cardinals last year.

Lopez is just a season removed from hitting .310 with an .810 OPS, so it’s a nice low-cost flier for the Rays.

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.