Minnesota Twins: Alex Cobb is a nice ‘Plan B’ for the Twins

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Alex Cobb /

The Minnesota Twins have seemingly made starting pitcher Yu Darvish their top free agent target, but Alex Cobb would be a nice ‘Plan B’.

The Minnesota Twins have been relatively quiet in the early goings of the offseason. While they’ve come away with a pair of pitchers, neither looks to be long-term solutions.

Specifically, the first signee was former New York Yankees starter Michael Pineda, who is likely out for the 2018 season after Tommy John surgery, while the other signee was 40-year-old closer Fernando Rodney, who’s clearly in the twilight of his career. In other words, Derek Falvey and the Twins have plenty of work left to do and particularly, they have their sights set on signing starting pitcher and ace Yu Darvish. Essentially, you’d call this the ‘Plan A’ free agent scenario for the club.

In reality, the Twins need starting pitching badly. Sure, Ervin Santana played excellently in 2017, resulting in an All-Star appearance, but by no means is he the man you want leading the rotation. Alongside Santana, there’s the promising José Berríos, but it’s even hard to trust him in the ace role to start 2018, although the potential is definitely there to do so. After those two, it’s anyone guess as to who rounds out the rotation next season. So, starting pitching is a definite need, ideally someone who can fill one of the top-two spots of the rotation. Enter in Yu Darvish.

Related Story: What could the Twins rotation look like in 2018?

That being said, things on the Darvish front seem to just be heating up. Specifically, the Cubs flew out Theo Epstein to meet with the 31-year-old about a possible fit in Chicago. Additionally, there’s sure to be plenty of other suitors for arguably the top arm on the market. With this in mind, the Twins look like they are looking into ‘Plan B’ options. Namely, they reportedly have interest in former Tampa Bay Rays starter Alex Cobb.

Honestly, the Twins could do a lot worse than the 30-year-old right-hander. In five seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, six if you count a brief stint in 2011, Cobb boasts a 48-35 record with a 3.50 ERA. In comparison, Darvish has a career 56-42 record and 3.42 ERA. They’ve also both missed a season due to injury, so there careers are fairly comparable. The major difference between the two is that Darvish is the superior strikeout pitcher with a career 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings to Cobb’s 7.3.

Even so, Cobb is a capable top-two pitcher in a rotation and has been dominate at times over his career with the Rays. In 2013 and 2014, Cobb put together back-to-back sub-3.00 ERA years and a combined 21-12 record. Last season, he had another great season following a pair of injury plagued ones, finishing with a 12-10 record and 3.66 ERA. Not to mention, he was tenth-best in the AL in WHIP (1.221) and seventh-best in walks per nine innings (2.206).

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Of course, durability is a question mark considering Cobb’s injury history. In the best case scenario, the Twins would like someone that could give them at least his career-high of 179.1 innings. Yet, considering Darvish has only broke the 200 inning barrier once in his career, it’s not like he’s the most durable arm either. Additionally, Cobb’s career-high came last season, so there’s reason to believe the injuries are behind him.

Furthermore, Cobb is going to come cheaper than Darvish on the market. That’s not to say Cobb will be inexpensive, but compared to Darvish, he’s considered a tier below, meaning he’s going to garner less money. Given the risk factor of signing either injury prone player to long-term deals, Cobb may be the better risk to take since he’ll come with a lesser price tag.

If the Twins indeed sign Cobb, it’s probably a sign that Darvish didn’t work out, but in the end, that may not be such  a bad thing. Yes, Cobb may not become the Twins’ ace, but he’s one heck of a pitcher to throw up in one of the top three spots of the rotation. With Berríos developing and prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero coming up soon, Minnesota may have its future ace within the organization anyway.

Next: What should the Twins lineup look like in 2018?

Altogether, Cobb is not a bad ‘Plan B’ for the Twins. As matter of fact, he could turn out to be the best option out there after all is said and done.