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Report: Cubs will make big push for Alex Cobb

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The Cubs are looking for help on all fronts this winter, particularly when it comes to their pitching staff. Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports that the team is seriously pursuing free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, and while it’s not the first time the two have been linked in offseason rumors, Levine speculates that a deal could happen prior to the Winter Meetings on Monday.

Cobb, 30, rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays last month. He made a successful comeback in his first full season post-Tommy John surgery and is reportedly seeking a four-year deal, which has the potential to keep the Cubs’ core rotation intact for the next 2-3 years. Granted, the righty’s recent history of elbow injuries doesn’t exactly make him a sure thing for any rotation, and the Cubs still appear to be up against several other suitors, including the Yankees. Should they manage to ink him to a contract prior to Monday’s free agent frenzy in Orlando (giving up their second-highest draft pick and $500,000 in international bonus pool money to do so), Levine notes that it could give them some added leverage as they try to secure more pitching depth over the coming week.

Of course, the Cubs’ offseason wish list extends beyond the rotation, especially in the absence of closer Wade Davis. Levine lists free agent right-handers Addison Reed and Brandon Morrow as possible bullpen targets, even as Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets might try to re-sign Reed in 2018. Morrow, meanwhile, has already drawn interest from the Giants and Dodgers, though he’s expected to command a shorter, cheaper contract than Reed this offseason.

Ex-Angels employee charged in overdose death of Tyler Skaggs

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FORT WORTH, Texas — A former Angels employee has been charged with conspiracy to distribute fentanyl in connection with last year’s overdose death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs, prosecutors in Texas announced Friday.

Eric Prescott Kay was arrested in Fort Worth, Texas, and made his first appearance Friday in federal court, according to Erin Nealy Cox, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Kay was communications director for the Angels.

Skaggs was found dead in his hotel room in the Dallas area July 1, 2019, before the start of what was supposed to be a four-game series against the Texas Rangers. The first game was postponed before the teams played the final three games.

Skaggs died after choking on his vomit with a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful painkillers fentanyl and oxycodone in his system, a coroner’s report said. Prosecutors accused Kay of providing the fentanyl to Skaggs and others, who were not named.

“Tyler Skaggs’s overdose – coming, as it did, in the midst of an ascendant baseball career – should be a wake-up call: No one is immune from this deadly drug, whether sold as a powder or hidden inside an innocuous-looking tablet,” Nealy Cox said.

If convicted, Kay faces up to 20 years in prison. Federal court records do not list an attorney representing him, and an attorney who previously spoke on his behalf did not immediately return a message seeking comment.