Last week the Indians signed veteran infielder Julio Lugo to a minor-league contract, or so they thought.
Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the deal has “fallen apart” and the Indians no longer expect to sign Lugo, who would have competed for a bench spot in spring training at age 36.
He would have been unlikely to make the team anyway, as Lugo saw very limited action in the majors with the Braves last season while hitting .136 and hit just .249 with a .581 OPS in 93 games for the Orioles in 2010.
Mostly it just seems weird that negotiations for a minor-league contract could break down, because there really isn’t a whole lot to negotiate other than maybe an invitation to spring training or an opt-out clause if he’s not in the majors by a certain date.
Or maybe someone in the Indians’ front office realized what was happening and said: “Wait, is this the same Julio Lugo? The 36-year-old one?”
UPDATE: Bastian follows up to say that Lugo passing a physical exam may have been the issue, which makes sense.
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.