The Orioles’ four-year deal with starting pitcher Alex Cobb became official on Wednesday morning and Cobb is expected to report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota this afternoon.
What’s next for Cobb – who went through the entire offseason and most of spring training without finding a home – is preparing for upcoming season. To say he’s behind would be an understatement. He won’t likely be ready for Opening Day.
Cobb has been working out on his own, but he obviously has yet to build game innings and face spring training competition. So he will accept a limited option to the minor leagues in order to prepare for the season, according to an industry source.
He does have a minor league option remaining, but since he has five years of major league experience, Cobb has the right to refuse a minor league assignment.
But he will accept this one in order to prepare for the season. There’s no timetable on how long Cobb will need to build his innings, but it would seem that he’d need at least three or four outings in order to build his count to five or six innings.
There are just six exhibition games remaining – five Grapefruit League games and an exhibition contest at Triple-A Norfolk – and minor league camp breaks a week from Thursday, so Cobb will likely open this season at one of the Orioles’ minor league affiliates.
At that point, he’d probably work out in Baltimore and pitch at one of the nearby affiliates like Double-A Bowie or high-A Frederick depending on which club is at home.
In order to make room for Cobb on the organization’s 40-man roster, the Orioles have designated Rule 5 pick Jose Mesa, Jr. for assignment.
Mesa, who was one of three pitchers the Orioles selected in the Rule 5 draft, posted a 5.87 ERA in 2/3 spring innings.
As a Rule 5 pick, Mesa can be returned to the Yankees, the team that he was drafted from, if he clears waivers.