Elbow issue could derail that big Felix Hernandez extension

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Thursday that the Mariners had reached agreement on a seven-year, $175 million contract extension with staff ace Felix Hernandez. But something apparently went wrong during the righty’s pre-signing physical.

According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, there is some concern about the status of Hernandez’s pitching elbow which “could affect contract talks.”

That’s all the information we have for now, but you can bet that more details will trickle out soon.

Hernandez, 26, posted a superb 3.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 223/56 K/BB ratio in 232 innings last season.

He is currently under contract for $19.5 million in 2013 and $20 million in 2014.

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UPDATE, 3:20 PM: Olney provides a little more insight in his story filed to ESPN.com:

The elbow issue is perceived by at least one of the parties in the deal as being a possible impediment to the completion of the new contract.

“It’s an issue,” said one source.

UPDATE, 3:37 PM: Nightengale hears that both sides are “still hoping to complete” the seven-year, $175  million contract extension. Perhaps the Mariners will try to add some injury clauses.

UPDATE, 4:18 PM: Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik gave a “no comment” to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times about the situation but noted that Felix will report to camp on schedule this week.

UPDATE, 4:39 PM: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says it could take a week, month or more to work through “various issues” in the language of the extension.

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.