Yankees could target free agent pitcher Alex Cobb this offseason

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 10: Alex Cobb /

According to a report in the Boston Globe, free-agent-to-be Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays could be the Yankees top choice to replace Masahiro Tanaka.

First things first, no one is going to mistake Alex Cobb for Masahiro Tanaka — let’s get that out of the way right now. But early indications are that Tanaka will opt-out of the remaining 3-year, $67 million remaining on his Yankees contract.

If this is indeed the case, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports expects the Yankees to let the 28-year-old and his partially torn UCL take his talents elsewhere.

"It’s questionable whether Masahiro Tanaka will opt out of the $67 million and three years left on his deal after an up-and-down season and some physical questions. But the Yankees aren’t expected to chase him if he does, as they did with CC Sabathia when he opted out and they gave him an extra year at the same salary."

With free-agent shooters like Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish set to hit the market, each with their own set of question marks, general manager Brian Cashman will likely look towards cheaper alternatives to round out his staff in 2018.

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Although Shohei Otani is the most intriguing name to monitor this winter, the Yankees must decide whether or not it’s more advantageous to bring back their own commodities like CC Sabathia and Jaime Garcia, or potentially poach a division rival right-hander, a la Alex Cobb.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe speculates that Cobb could be a low-cost option to take over for Tanaka now that the Yankees have a new No. 1 in Luis Severino. 

"Cobb should make out very well in free agency. One major league source indicated that the Orioles, Yankees, and Blue Jays are very interested, knowing Cobb is battle-tested in the AL East. But the interest in him should be widespread, including in the National League. Cobb is seen as a solid mid-rotation pitcher who won’t be as costly as the perceived No. 1s and 2s."

The soon-to-be 30-year-old Cobb has pitched better than his numbers suggest this season. In 173.1 innings, Cobb has gone 11-10 with a 3.63 ERA, 1.136 WHIP and 149:47 K:BB ratio.

In his first full season since returning from Tommy John surgery, which first took place in 2015, Cobb’s career 3.35 ERA ranks him 20th among starters who have thrown over 500 frames during that time.

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Despite Tanaka’s up and down season, culminating in a 12-11 record, 4.73 ERA and 9.4 SO/9, losing him would be a blow that could be covered up rather quickly by an effective and injury-free Cobb. All-in-all, a starting staff of Severino, Sonny Gray, Otani, Cobb and Jordan Montgomery could be wildly exciting come 2018.