Joakim Soria’s fears were justified, as an MRI exam on his injured elbow revealed ulnar collateral ligament damage.
No word yet on the extent of the damage, but torn UCLs are what lead to Tommy John surgeries and 12-month recoveries.
Soria has actually already had Tommy John surgery, way back in 2003 when he was a teenager in rookie-ball. His big-league debut came four years later and since then he’s been one of the truly elite relievers in all of baseball, throwing 315 innings with a 2.40 ERA and fantastic 341/87 K/BB ratio.
And now just days after losing 22-year-old catcher Salvador Perez for 3-4 months following knee surgery the Royals may be without their best pitcher and potential top trade asset. Soria makes $6 million this season and the Royals have $8 million and $8.75 million team options for 2013 and 2014.
Jonathan Broxton would be the obvious choice to fill in for Soria as closer, assuming of course that he’s healthy after missing most of last season with elbow problems of his own.
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.