Oscar Taveras feels “100 percent”

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Cardinals top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras was supposed to arrive in the major leagues by the middle of the 2013 season, but he suffered a severe high right ankle sprain last May and eventually needed surgery to repair the damage. He wound up appearing in just 46 games for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds and was shut down for good in August.

Now, of course, the focus shifts to the 2014 campaign. And the 21-year-old hard-swinging Dominican is hoping that this will finally be his breakthrough summer. Taveras spoke Saturday to fans and media at the Cardinals’ annual Winter Warmup in downtown St. Louis. Via MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch:

“With the work that I’ve done this week and what I’ve done at home with the trainer, I feel 100 percent,” Taveras said through interpreter Marissa Diaz, a member of the Cardinals’ community-relations department. “In spring training, I hope to get stronger and be back with the team. … I’ve been working really hard with my ankle. Physically, I feel prepared. I feel good. Last year was off because of the ankle. I felt bad because I wasn’t on the team. But I was watching the team, watching my friends play hard. That got my spirits up to work hard this year. If God has it, I will be on the team this year in 2014.”

Taveras is a .320/.377/.518 career hitter in over 1,500 minor league plate appearances. With experience at all three outfield spots, he’ll be in consideration for an Opening Day roster spot this spring in Cardinals camp.

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.