Report: Alex Rodriguez decision “imminent,” ruling appears “favorable” for MLB

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UPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Horowitz is expected to rule on Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension today. Stay tuned.

11:35 a.m. ET: When yesterday passed without a ruling on Alex Rodriguez’s 211-game suspension, the assumption was that we likely wouldn’t hear anything from arbitrator Fredric Horowitz until Monday at the earliest. As Ronald Blum of the Associated Press hears, that might not necessarily be the case:

People familiar with the case told The Associated Press on Friday that arbitrator Fredric Horowitz could issue his decision this weekend. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized.

So, basically, a ruling could come down this weekend. Or it might not. Fun times.

While Steven Marcus of New York Newsday also hears that a decision from Horowitz is imminent, he adds the following interesting nugget:

Rodriguez has previously vowed to fight any suspension from MLB in federal court, but he could face long odds to have his case heard or walk away vindicated. With that in mind, Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reported Thursday that he has discussed the possibility of accepting a reduced suspension (less than 100 games) to put the matter behind him. However, if Horowitz sides with MLB and upholds the suspension in-full or close to it, the fight figures to continue.

Rodriguez, 38, is under contract for $25 million in 2014. With a pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka underway, the Yankees would obviously appreciate some clarity on the situation as they attempt to keep their payroll under the much-discussed $189 million threshold.

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.