This obviously isn’t going to last all season, but right now it’s pretty damn startling to look at the standings and see that the five teams with the highest payrolls in MLB are all .500 or worse and four of them are currently in last place.
New York leads MLB with a $198 million payroll, yet the Yankees are 21-21 and tied for last place in the AL East with the Red Sox, who have MLB’s third-highest payroll at $173 million.
Philadelphia sits between them in payroll at $175 million and the Phillies are bringing up the rear in the NL East at 21-22. Similarly the Angels rank fourth with a $155 million payroll and are the AL West’s last-place team at 18-25. Detroit is the only top-five payroll to avoid last place, but the Tigers and their $132 million payroll aren’t exactly thriving with a 20-21 record that’s good for third place in the horrendous AL Central.
Add it all up and those five teams have spent around $833 million on players for this season, and after one quarter of the schedule they’re a combined 101-110 and 27 total games out of first place.
All of which makes me wonder: When it comes to the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Angels, and Phillies making the playoffs this season, how you would bet if the over/under was set at 2.5 teams? I’d likely still take the over.
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.