Andrelton Simmons could begin rehab assignment Tuesday

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Andrelton Simmons has been sidelined since July 8 due to a fractured right pinkie finger, but it looks like he’ll be able to rejoin the Braves for the stretch run.

According to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Simmons was cleared by hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie to begin all baseball activities and could begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as Tuesday. Triple-A Gwinnett’s season ends on Monday, so the Braves will likely send him to either High-A Lynchburg or Low-A Rome, who are both headed for the playoffs. Barring any setbacks, the rookie shortstop could be activated by the middle of this month.

Simmons, 22, was batting .296/.336/.452 with three home runs, 15 RBI and a .788 OPS over his first 33 games in the majors prior to the injury. Jack Wilson was released yesterday, which is a sign that the Braves intend to rely on Paul Janish and Simmons at shortstop the rest of the way.

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.