We could see Chase Utley at third base soon

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We heard late last month that Chase Utley was starting to take some grounders at third base to see if he could be an option at the position at some point down the road. The experiment could begin pretty soon.

After Utley worked out at third base again this afternoon at Citi Field, manager Charlie Manuel told John Gonzalez of CSNPhilly.com that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility that the 33-year-old could play there in a game before the end of the season.

“We could,” Manuel said. “It depends on where we are. The next week will tell us where we are, probably … We’re going to run out of season pretty soon.”

In other words, the Phillies aren’t going to mess around if they feel like they are still in the race. However, after dropping three out of four games to the lowly Astros, the playoffs are suddenly looking like a remote possibility. It might not be long before they start looking ahead to 2013.

While there have been some concerns about Utley’s arm strength, Manuel believes a move to third base could help ease the burden on his knees. If he makes the switch next season, Freddy Galvis would likely take over as the starting second baseman. Galvis showed earlier this year that he was up to the task defensively, but he batted just .226/.254/.363 with a .617 OPS and 29/7 K/BB ratio in 200 plate appearances.

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.