Cardinals demote top prospects Shelby Miller, Zack Cox

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Any speculation that Shelby Miller might be the choice to replace Chris Carpenter in early April ended Wednesday with the Cardinals’ decision to reassign him to minor league camp.

Among the others also demoted today were fellow starter Brandon Dickson and third baseman Zack Cox.

Miller, one of baseball’s top prospects, went 11-6 with a 2.77 ERA between high-A Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield last season. He disappointed a bit with his velocity while allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings this spring, but given that he’s just getting warmed up, it probably isn’t something to worry about.

Dickson, 27, made his major league debut with the Cardinals last summer, allowing three runs over 8 2/3 innings in one start and three relief appearances. He’s another one of the team’s fallback rotation options this season, though a far less exciting one than Miller.

Cox, a 2010 first-round pick, was 2-for-9 with five strikeouts this spring. He and Miller were teammates for most of last season, with both moving up from the FSL to the Texas League partway through. They’ll likely both return to Springfield to start this season.

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.