As expected the Red Sox have scratched Josh Beckett from his scheduled Sunday start against the Twins due to a back injury, announcing that Franklin Morales will take his place.
Morales moving back into the rotation seemed possible as soon as the Red Sox traded for left-handed reliever Craig Breslow earlier this week, although for now at least the move isn’t permanent because Beckett remains on the active roster.
Beckett left Tuesday’s start in the third inning due to back spasms and missed much of 2010 with a back injury, but so far the Red Sox have indicated this issue isn’t particularly serious.
Morales had gone three years without starting when the Red Sox gave him a chance in the rotation in mid-June and he had a 3.42 ERA and 31/8 K/BB ratio in five starts, but then moved back into the bullpen for the past few weeks.
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.