In the wake of Will Middlebrooks’ calf injury the Red Sox have signed Ryan Roberts to help fill in at third base, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
Roberts was released by the Cubs at the end of spring training and hasn’t topped a .700 OPS since 2011 with the Diamondbacks, hitting .247 with five homers in limited action for the Rays last season at age 32.
He does offer plenty of positional versatility defensively and figures to see most of his action against left-handed pitching, off whom he’s hit .266 with 21 homers and a .785 OPS in 601 career plate appearances.
(Roberts also significantly increases the Red Sox’s average tattoo count, which is always a huge factor in any pennant race.)
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.