After being quoted as saying that he “wasn’t asked” about the Stephen Strasburg shutdown, Dr. Lewis Yocum clarified his comments to the Los Angeles Times late this afternoon.
Yocum is now saying that all parties involved — including himself, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo, Strasburg and agent Scott Boras — agreed last year that the pitcher would face an innings-limit in 2012. He also said that he has maintained dialogue with the Nationals and team doctors during the season and spoke with Rizzo recently as August 13.
“I would like to correct the misimpression generated from today’s L.A. Times article, that I have not been a participant in discussions with the Washington Nationals regarding the recovery strategy for pitcher Stephen Strasburg. In fact, I have been contacted repeatedly and have had numerous discussions with the Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and the team’s medical personnel, as recently as mid-August. While the final decision was up to the team, as is standard practice, I was supportive of their decision and am comfortable that my medical advice was responsibly considered.”
As Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post notes, the misunderstanding could have occurred because Yocum thought he was being asked if he helped decide precisely when Strasburg was being shut down. He wasn’t. And he said as much this time around, as well. But in the original story he was quoted as saying that he hadn’t spoken with Rizzo since last year. How could he suddenly forget that? Sure, maybe this is one big misunderstanding, but it still smells pretty fishy.
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.