Chicago Cubs News: Enter Alex Cobb?

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Alex Cobb /

The Chicago Cubs will acquire at least one starting pitcher this winter and the signs are pointing towards Tampa Bay Rays’ free agent Alex Cobb.

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon did hold back when he was asked earlier this week on 670 The Score whether free agent starting pitcher Jake Arrieta would return to the team next season.

Maddon told the Spiegel and Parkins show this past week that “Jake is probably gone” when talking about the Cubs’ off-season plans.

The news should not come as too much of a surprise as the expectation all along has been that Arrieta would be pitching elsewhere in 2018. With that expectation comes the idea that the Cubs will likely acquire one if not two starting pitchers this winter.

More from Chicago Cubs

There have been very direct lines connected between the Cubs and free agent starting pitcher Alex Cobb.

Cobb has publicly stated that he would like to pitch for the Chicago Cubs next season. The Cubs have expressed similar interest. As is the case every winter, the deciding factor will be money. Cobb is expected to land a lucrative contract in the four-to-five-year range.

At 30 years of age, Cobb would seem to be an ideal investment on a four-year contract.

With the Rays in the competitive American League East division last season, Cobb posted a 3.66 ERA, 4.24 xFIP, and 1.22 WHIP while compiling 179.1 innings pitched. For Cobb, it was the first season in his career that he surpassed the 170-inning mark in a season.

Assuming that Arrieta does, in fact, sign elsewhere and John Lackey does not return, the Cubs will be tasked with replacing two starting pitchers this winter. Fortunately, the Cubs are in a unique position.

One thing to remember is that the Cubs’ starting rotation already includes Jon Lester and Jose Quintana at the top. This means the Cubs don’t necessarily have to shell out top dollar for re-signing Arrieta or pursuing fellow free agent Yu Darvish.

With that in mind, Cobb becomes an ideal candidate for the Cubs this winter. Cobb is a pitcher that walks the line between being a top of the rotation starter and middle of the rotation cornerstone. That is exactly what the Cubs are looking for this off-season and is ultimately the reason why it may be likely that Cobb reunites with former Rays’ manager Joe Maddon on the North Side.

Next: Chicago Cubs: Three Goals for Willson Contreras

Losing Jake Arrieta this off-season will definitely be an emotional moment for the Chicago Cubs and their fan-base but the team can certainly do no wrong if they decide to replace Arrieta with free agent Alex Cobb.