Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias provided a rare update on Cobb this afternoon in the home dugout during batting practice.
Cobb has been attempting to rehab his lower back and hip in Sarasota. The decision was made for Cobb to visit orthopedic surgeon Dr. J.W. Thomas Byrd in Nashville.
The surgery is intended to correct a femoroacetabular impingement, which Elias described as “basically some boney outgrowth that’s rubbing up against some soft tissue.”
“We do expect that it will end his season,” Elias said. “We made the determination to do it. He could try to pitch right now. He clearly hasn’t been 100 percent and it’s more important to us that we get this issue corrected at the right time and have him 100 percent for next spring training.
“We’re fully anticipating a 100 percent Alex Cobb in Sarasota next spring and that’s what we want. So after the surgery he will be rehabbing in Sarasota for the remainder of the year and we’ll take it from there.”
Elias said Cobb, who missed out on the opening day start due to a groin injury, also could undergo a procedure on his knee.
“He’s had some nagging stuff in his knee and we may use this time to get that taken care of, take a look at, as well,” Elias said.
Cobb has been placed on the injured list on three occasions since spring training, including twice for a lumbar strain. He allowed 15 runs (16 total) and 21 hits with nine home runs in 12 1/3 innings, his last appearance coming April 26 in Minnesota.
“All of his issues were in kind of the low back/groin/hip region and it all seems to be referred pain extending from this little issue he’s had in his hip and it was just bothering him in the early part of the year,” Elias said.
“Obviously the timing is unfortunate, but it kind of took us by surprise in spring training and he thought he might have had it licked when he came back and tried to pitch, but really the judgment was made on his part, on our entire medical staff and our training staff to just go ahead and get this taken care of because it is something that’s fairly easily correctable and will put him in position to be 100 percent for 2020.”
Blisters on the right index and middle fingers were the most nagging physical issues with Cobb last season, forcing him out of multiple starts in the second half. He went 5-15 with a 4.90 ERA and 1.411 WHIP in 28 starts, but registered a 2.56 ERA and 1.156 WHIP in 11 games after the break.
The Orioles signed Cobb to a four-year, $57 million contract in March 2018. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2015 that cost him a full season with the Rays.
Cobb was deemed a trade chip for the Orioles and they checked on possible suitors at the Winter Meetings, expressing a willingness to absorb a portion of his remaining salary. Injuries and the latest surgery eliminate any chance of moving him.
Outfielder Mark Trumbo remains with Triple-A Norfolk on an injury rehab assignment and also has lost value on the market.
Elias was asked whether Trumbo will be ready to play when his assignment concludes on Sunday. Trumbo had his knee checked yesterday in Baltimore and appears to be making nice progress, running better than he did in spring training.
“The rehab assignment is still ongoing and the type of injury he’s coming back from is a bit of a process,” Elias said. “We’ve been seeing some good things from him down there. We’re just going to have to complete the entire rehab assignment process before putting too much judgment on it because we know these things can have their ups and downs. But the fact that he’s out there playing right now is a good thing and this has been a long, arduous affair for him, so that fact that he’s this far is good, but we still have a ways to go.”
Elias expressed more disappointment that Cobb can’t bring stability to the rotation and Trumbo can’t provide a presence in the order than the organization losing trade chips.
“(Starting pitching) is not our greatest area of depth or strength, so having him toward the top of the rotation would have been huge,” Elias said. “Now we’re going to have to wait for next year. And Trum’s a big bat that’s missing in the middle of our lineup and that injury has hurt this organization last year as well as this year.
“I think of it more in terms of that rather than trade pieces. That comes as it comes.”
There are other desirable players in Elias’ possession that will keep him busy as the deadline approaches next month.
“It’s an ongoing thing in our business,” Elias said. “We kind of have conversations constantly. Most of the time they don’t really go anywhere. That said, once the draft ends front offices will typically start to dedicate more resources and more time thinking about the trade market.
“There’s nobody that we’re going to push out the door, feeling that we’ve got to trade people, but we would be foolish not to entertain future value, especially for players who might not be with us next year because their contracts are up or whatever. So we’re going to be listening and we’ll see what happens. My phone’s on and we’re keeping in touch with other clubs as we go, as is our job.
“We’ve got guys who are attractive and people ask about them all the time, some more than others,” Elias said. “Again, we really haven’t entered the full throes of trade season and I expect those conversations will pick up in frequency and maybe even intensity as we get into July, but there are good players here and we want to keep them here, especially if they’re under control for a while. So it’s going to take two to tango, so to speak.”
Which leads us to Trey Mancini, who would bring the biggest return but also is under consideration for an extension.
“I don’t know if it’s even arguable, he’s the best player on our team right now,” Elias said. “A .900 OPS, he’s a sure-fire All-Star in my eyes, great in the clubhouse, home runs, hitting for average. You name it. So we’re not looking to part with Trey. That said, as I’ve said all along, we’re open to anything.
“We do have our sites set on the future a little bit and if we make the determination that if we end up making some kind of trade transaction with him or any player and we feel that what we’re getting back is better for the organization than what we’re giving up, then we’re going to listen on it, but he’s an integral part of this team and I hope he’s around for a while.”
What about an extension?
“It’s certainly a thought that’s crossed my mind,” Elias said. “Again, that would be something that I think would take both parties to find mutually beneficial. But who wouldn’t want a player like him around for the long haul.”
The Orioles made a trade yesterday to improve their pitching depth at Triple-A, acquiring Tom Eshelman from the Phillies for international signing bonus slots.
“We’ve been looking for opportunities to add some Triple-A starting pitching depth, which is not easy to come by because teams really kind of horde that, especially when the guy’s off the 40-man roster and/or has option remaining,” Elias said. “Those are valuable commodities because when you suffer injuries you need that starting pitching, so he fits the bill there. I think he’s going to help us in that regard and he might be in position to help the Orioles later this year if we have some injuries thinning our starting pitching depth.
“We’re also nearing the end of the international signing period for 2018. I think it ends in four days. We still had a lot of slot money remaining that we weren’t going to be able to spend. We have two Dominican Summer League teams now and we filled both rosters, so there really wasn’t much for us to do with the money. What Philadelphia’s going to do with it, I’m not sure exactly. I guess we’ll see. But it made sense for us to add a guy like Eshelman, given the depth that he provides us and possibly the opportunity that he’ll have here. To us that was more valuable than keeping the international signing slots.
“I think the 2019 period is going to be a much different story for us.”
The Orioles have signed the following draft picks, along with one undrafted free agent: SS Joey Ortiz (fourth round), OF Johnny Rizer (seventh), RHP Griffin McLarty (eighth), C Jordan Cannon (10th), CF Mason Janvrin (14th), RHP Kyle Martin (15th), RHP Shelton Perkins (16th), RHP Morgan McSweeney (17th), RHP Malachi Emond (18th), RHP Clayton McGinness (20th), 3B Toby Welk (21st), CF Shayne Fontana (23rd), RHP Garrett Farmer (25th), RHP Nick Roth (26th), LHP Dillon McCollough (27th), RHP Jonathan Pendergast (28th), LHP Dalton Stambaugh (30th), C Harris Yett (32nd), CF Craig Lewis (33rd), OF Trevor Kehe (36th), and RHP James Ryan (UDFA).
Elias said again that he didn’t anticipate any issues with signing first-overall pick Adley Rutschman, the catcher from Oregon State who’s completing his final exams and attending awards ceremonies.
“Everything’s going to go smoothly there is my expectation,” Elias said.
Update: Eric Sogard homered on John Means’ fourth pitch to give the Blue Jays a quick 1-0 lead.
Update II: Mancini had an RBI double in the third inning and he scored the go-ahead run on Chance Sisco’s double.
Update IV: Miguel Castro gave up a run with two outs in the eighth but the Orioles got it back in the bottom half on Villar’s RBI double.