Carl Crawford’s ankle injury led to Matt Kemp coming off the bench and rejoining the Dodgers’ starting lineup, but now that Crawford is ready to return it sounds like he’ll be the one on the bench most days.
Don Mattingly has gone with Kemp in left field, Andre Ethier in center field, and Yasiel Puig in right field while also giving occasional starts to Scott Van Slyke, and the manager told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that he “is not really planning any big changes” with Crawford set to return as soon as tomorrow.
Mattingly went on to say that “everybody is happier … they don’t have to come to the ballpark looking for the lineup card.” He also indicated that Crawford playing a position other than left field isn’t really an option, and Kemp has started all but one of the past 39 games there while hitting .289 with a .781 OPS. By comparison, Crawford hit just .267 with a .693 OPS in 44 games before the injury.
Circumstances can change quickly, of course, and it only takes one injury for Crawford to be back in the lineup as a regular. He’s also making $20 million this season and is owed another $62 million from 2015-2017, so one way or another a long-term spot on the Dodgers’ bench probably isn’t in the cards.
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.