Pirates’ starting catcher Chris Snyder to have back surgery

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UPDATE: Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review reports that Snyder needs surgery and may be lost for the season.

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Coming into the season the Pirates had so much catching depth that they were desperately trying to trade Ryan Doumit rather than use him as a part-time outfielder, but now Doumit is on the disabled list with an ankle injury and starting catcher Chris Snyder has joined him on the shelf.

Snyder, who began the season on the DL with a lower back injury, is sidelined again by the same problem, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.

To make matters worse, would-be call-up Jason Jaramillo is on the DL at Triple-A with an elbow injury, which leaves minor-league veterans Dusty Brown and Wyatt Toregas to split time behind the plate in Pittsburgh for now.

Former first-round pick Tony Sanchez is the Pirates’ long-term answer at catcher, but he’s just 23 years old and not exactly dominating at Double-A with a .725 OPS in 46 games. Langosch writes that “Sanchez is not coming up … he isn’t even moving to Triple-A.” She speculates that the Pirates could claim Jake Fox off waivers after he was designated for assignment by the Orioles last week, but there are plenty of questions about how useful he can be as a catcher defensively.

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.