After reaching a two-year contract with backup catcher Gerald Laird earlier today, the Braves are staying busy.
Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that the Braves hosted free agent outfielder B.J. Upton this afternoon at Turner Field. Both general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez were on hand for the meeting.
It’s not clear whether a contract offer was made today, but Bowman writes that the Braves appear to regard Upton “as the most attractive outfielder available on the free agent market.” This would seem to indicate that they prefer him over fellow free agent Michael Bourn, who enjoyed a career-year with the Braves in 2012, but is two years older. They should have plenty of competition for Upton, though, as the Phillies, Nationals and Rangers have also been mentioned as possible fits.
Upton, 28, batted .246/.298/.454 with a .752 OPS this season. He has amassed at least 18 home runs and 31 stolen bases in each of the last three seasons.
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.