Orioles catcher Matt Wieters had his sore elbow examined by Dr. James Andrews and for once the news is actually good: Dr. Andrews reviewed his MRI exam and determined that Wieters does not need surgery.
Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Wieters will probably take some time off from catching, but should be able to stay in the Orioles’ lineup as a designated hitter. Steve Clevenger will take over as Baltimore’s primary catcher and Caleb Joseph could be added to the roster for more catching depth.
Based on his career numbers Wieters wouldn’t be an especially strong designated hitter, but he’s been on fire this season with a .337 batting average, five homers, and a .942 OPS in 22 games. And hopefully he’ll be able to move back behind the plate before long.
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.