April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Angels to acquire Alex Cobb from Orioles for Jahmai Jones

The Angels are near an agreement to acquire right-handed starting pitcher Alex Cobb from the Baltimore Orioles for infield prospect Jahmai Jones, the Athletic reported Monday. The Orioles are expected to pay more than half of the $15 million Cobb is owed for the final season of his four-year, $57-million contract.

Cobb, 33, is a veteran of nine seasons. He has an ERA of 3.88 and a 55-57 record over 156 starts since debuting in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Rays. Although he hasn’t pitched nearly as well in recent years as he did with the Rays, he has been a reliable innings eater for the Orioles rotation when healthy.

Cobb would be the second starter acquired by Angels first-year general manager Perry Minasian, who signed veteran José Quintana to a one-year deal in January. Like Quintana, Cobb previously pitched for current Angels manager Joe Maddon.

Cobb, a fourth-round draft pick out of Vero Beach High in Florida in 2006, made 10 starts for the Orioles in the shortened 2020 season. He produced a 4.30 ERA, struck out 38 and issued 18 walks in 52 ⅓ innings. Some metrics suggest Cobb, who had a 2-5 record for a 35-loss team, might have suffered a worse fate. Opponents who made contact against Cobb averaged an 91-mph exit velocity, and only 5% of MLB pitchers allowed harder contact, according to Baseball Savant.

The development of his 87-mph splitter might be an encouraging sign for the Angels. He threw the pitch 35% of the time last year and rarely saw it hit hard. Opponents averaged .188 with a .287 slugging percentage against it. The splitter was also an effective strikeout pitch, drawing a 36.2% whiff rate.

Cobb pairs the splitter with a 93-mph sinker and an 82-mph curveball.

Cobb got his start with the Tampa Bay Rays, the team managed by Maddon from 2006 to 2014. Before a forearm injury and subsequent Tommy John surgery claimed his 2015 campaign, he had emerged as one of the Rays’ top pitchers. He made at least 22 starts per season and posted a 3.19 ERA from 2012 to 2014.

Cobb had a 12-10 record with a 3.66 ERA in 2017, his first full season post-surgery. He hasn’t been as effective since. After signing with the Orioles in 2018, Cobb was 5-15 and his 4.90 ERA was the ninth-highest among starters who threw at least 150 innings that season.

His follow-up was worse. Back and lower body injuries limited him to three starts, in which he gave up 15 earned runs. He had season-ending hip surgery in June 2019.

Cobb might not be a significant addition to an Angels’ staff that posted ERAs above 5.00 the previous two seasons. He likely is an option for the back end of a six-man rotation that should feature two-way star Shohei Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Dylan Bundy, Griffin Canning and Quintana, with youngsters Jaime Barria, Patrick Sandoval or Jose Suarez vying for a berth.

Jones, 23, was a second-round pick of the Angels in 2015 but has struggled to hit consistently. He spent most of 2020 at the Angels’ alternative site and was three for seven in his major league debut. However, he batted only .234 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .631 in double-A in 2019 and .239 with an OPS of .717 in double-A and Class-A in 2018.