Last year, the Angels traded for an underachieving Orioles starter and he became the Halos’ best pitcher. After the success of Dylan Bundy in 2020, the Angels are going to the Baltimore well yet again, reportedly in talks to trade for Alex Cobb.
Breaking: Sources are telling me and @Ken_Rosenthal that the @Orioles are trading RHP Alex Cobb to the @Angels Not all details have been worked out yet. Cobb is on the last year of his deal -- owed $15 million.— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) February 1, 2021
Orioles, Angels attempting to hash out Cobb deal. Contractual situation is complicated, would need MLB approval. Source says Os will be getting at least one minor leaguer in return and Os will be paying more than half of Cobb’s $15M salary. Part will be present day, part deferral— Dan Connolly (@danconnolly2016) February 1, 2021
Am told the #Angels and #Orioles are working on a Cobb trade. Issues to work thru, though, and finalize. Cobb due $15M in 2021 last yr of pact and Balt will probably have to eat portion. Also Cobb has 10-team no-trade clause. Not publicly known if the LAA are on it.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 1, 2021
The Angels are sending infielder Jahmai Jones to the Orioles in the Alex Cobb trade, sources tell me and @Ken_Rosenthal— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) February 1, 2021
Cobb had a 4.30 ERA and 4.87 FIP in 10 starts for the Orioles in the truncated 2020 season, and his hard-hit rate (48.2 percent) and average exit velocity allowed (91.3 mph) were near the bottom of the league. In his three years with Baltimore the right-hander has a 5.10 ERA and 5.22 FIP in 41 starts. He missed all but three starts in 2019 with a hip injury that required surgery.
That doesn’t sound too exciting, even though the bar for the Angels is incredibly low, given that the non-Bundy/Heaney/Canning starting pitchers last year posted a 9.22 ERA in 26 starts. What the Angels rotation needs is basic competence, and there is at least some sliver of hope Cobb can provide that.
Cobb’s 54.5-percent ground ball rate last year and his 53.1-percent career mark would be the highest in the Angels rotation. New Angels shortstop José Iglesias played behind him in Baltimore last year.
Then, there’s Cobb’s repertoire.
Ever since he got his splitter back, Alex Cobb has been sneaky good. He was one of 70 SPs with above-average stuff (QoS+) & command (Command+) last year. The deal gives the Angels six or seven viable starting pitchers... depending on how you count Shohei Ohtani.— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) February 1, 2021
Cobb threw his split-fingered fastball 35 percent of the time in 2020, and opposing hitters batted just .181 with a .287 slugging percentage with 27 strikeouts in 102 plate appearances that ended on that pitch. His 24.8-percent put-away rate made the splitter by far his best pitch.
Baltimore signed Cobb to a four-year, $57 million deal before the 2018 season, and he’s due $15 million in 2021. It’s unclear how much money the Orioles are sending in the trade, but the Angels’ strategy is clear. Along with signing Jose Quintana for one year and $8 million, they went for quantity rather than shopping near the top end of the market.
This would also give the Angels four starting pitchers who will be free agents after the 2021 season — Bundy, Andrew Heaney, Quintana, and Cobb.
With Jaime Barria and Patrick Sandoval also at the ready, the Angels would appear to have something at least resembling actual starting pitching depth, something that has eluded them for the past few years. And that’s before even having to consider counting on Shohei Ohtani to pitch.
At first glance, the Angels rotation additions this offseason seem more quantity over quality, but since they did need all the help they can get, maybe it’s enough. Just rely on the offense and have a pitching staff that won’t torpedo your chances two out of every five games. Will it be enough for actual contention though?