From Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe comes word that the Angels have “inquired” about A’s closer Grant Balfour, Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan and Mariners closer Brandon League, with Cafardo calling Balfour the “most logical” fit because Oakland’s asking price should be the lowest.
Jordan Walden earned Rookie of the Year votes in the American League last year after registering a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves across 60 1/3 innings. But the 24-year-old right-hander has surrendered five hits, four walks and five earned runs in just 4 1/3 frames this year, prompting Anaheim to turn to veteran left-hander Scott Downs for interim ninth-inning duties.
And now the 7-14 Angels might take it a step further by bringing in an option from the outside.
Balfour, 34, has posted a superb 1.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP and 10/3 K/BB ratio in 13 innings this year as the A’s stopper. He’s earning a $4 million salary this season and carries a $4.5 million club option for 2013.
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.