On a day filled with hitting coaches being let go across baseball Joe Vavra is the latest, although in this case LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins have reassigned him within the organization rather than simply firing him.
Minnesota shaking up the coaching staff following back-to-back miserable seasons is no surprise, and in addition to changing Vavra’s role the Twins also fired longtime bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek and third base coach Steve Liddle.
Pitching has certainly been a much bigger problem than hitting for the Twins, but the organization being very fond of Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky has led to speculation that he’d replace Vavra at some point and the assumption has been that pitching coach Rick Anderson isn’t going anywhere as long as Ron Gardenhire is manager.
Vavra has been the Twins’ hitting coach since 2006, during which time the offense has ranked 10th, 13th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 12th, and 8th in runs scored among the 14 AL teams.
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.