Theo Epstein won’t say whether Dale Sveum will be back as Cubs manager

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Cubs president Theo Epstein was asked yesterday whether manager Dale Sveum will be back next season and declined to answer. So does that mean Sveum’s job is truly in jeopardy as he follows up last season’s 61-101 record by going 63-88 this year?

Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com delved a little deeper into Epstein’s quotes, including:

There’s no alarm bells to ring. But that’s a subject that gets addressed as a matter of process (after) the season. We’ve been very upfront about the fact that we’re not evaluating Dale on wins and losses. Our record is more of a reflection of the roster that we’ve put on the field as a baseball operations department and where we are in this building process. So I don’t hold Dale accountable for the record.

Of course, not being held accountable for the record doesn’t mean he’s not being held accountable for anything, and if the Cubs feel Sveum has struggled with, for instance, developing the young building blocks on the roster that could be a reason to fire him as well.

Mooney notes that Sveum is under contract for next season and the Cubs hold a team option for 2015. Epstein has generally offered plenty of praise for the job Sveum has done, but not replying with a simple “yes” when asked if a manager who’s under contract for 2014 will be back in 2014 is certainly open for interpretation.

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.