Alex Cobb
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Why do the New York Yankees have to muddy the water? Several reports indicate the New York Yankees are battling the Cubs for the services of Tampa Bay starting pitcher, Alex Cobb. Really? Why is that?

Since the offseason is full of questions, I have one for you all.

What do these New York Yankees all have in common? Luis Severino, Jordan Montgomery, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Domingo Acevedo, Chance Adams, Chad Green, Sonny Gray, Justus Sheffield, Albert Abreu, and last but not least, Shohei Ohtani.

You guessed correctly if you said they are all current starters for the Yankees or pitchers who are in close range of becoming one of their starters, depending on who catches the eye of the new Yankees manager in spring training and future contract add-ons.

Ohtani will be the primary focus of the upcoming week in baseball as the Japanese star will enter the free agent market as soon as Friday. Competition for the All-Star pitcher and outfielder is expected to be intense and the Yankees are considered one of the early betting favorites to be the winner in the sweepstakes for his unique talent.

Let’s not forget too that Jordan Montgomery wasn’t even on the Yankees’ radar at this time last year. It wasn’t until he caught the attention of Joe Girardi during the spring that he emerged as the Yankees’ fifth starter. Which causes one to wonder if there’s another “sleeper” in the organization who could come along to challenge for a starting role.

Add ’em up. There are eleven names on the list, competing for five positions with, effectively only one place “open” come spring training.

Yankees: Finders keepers, losers weepers?

We all familiar with the golden rule of baseball; you can never have too much pitching. We also get that baseball is a grind of 162 games over six months before the playoffs even begin. But at what point do the Yankees suffer from system overload, and the presence of so much talent becomes counterproductive?

All of which brings us back to Alex Cobb and the widely advanced rumors he is headed to New York. Joe Giglio, writing for NJ.com, reports that:

‘According to long-time MLB insider Peter Gammons, the Yankees will be heavily involved in the race to sign ex-Rays right-handed starter Alex Cobb.

Heading for Thanksgiving, the industry consensus is that the Alex Cobb showdown will come down to Cubs v. Yankees.’

Alex Cobb is a fine major league pitcher. Not great, but good. Giglio provides the details in his piece:

‘Cobb has spent his entire career in the AL East with the rival Rays. Since debuting in 2011, Cobb owns a 3.50 ERA, 3.68 FIP, and 111 ERA+. That work has come across 700 career innings, and 115 starts. The veteran missed all of 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery.’

Playing with the small-market Rays, Cobb’s highest salary came last year when he punched in at $4.5 million. But get this: In this, his free agent year and according to Spotrac, Cobb is projected to earn $18 million per season on a multi-year deal.

Which, in and of itself, opens the door for a discussion as to how and why a pitcher of Cobb’s caliber and record can be worth that much. But that’s a story for another time.

So, how does that compute for a team like the Yankees who continue to make a big splash about their desire and need to stay under the luxury-tax threshold of a $97 million payroll?

The answer, of course, is it doesn’t compute. And that’s maybe why none of the reports (I could find) contain any reaction from the Yankees regarding their interest in Cobb.

Sometimes, these rumors deserve a caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, asterisk next to them. Peter Gammons is a respected Hall of Fame sportswriter. Others, not so much. Player’s agents have also been known to “plant” stories like this, hoping to drum up interest in the player they represent.

Moreover, when you get two big market teams with money to burn, like the Yankees and Cubs, tagged to the story, suspicions rise to greater heights.

Less is more when it’s enough

Leaving that aside, the real question here is not only if the Yankees are interested in Cobb, but why they would be interested in any starting pitcher who might be available not named Clayton Kershaw or Corey Kluber.

The more significant issue with the Yankees should be how they are going to sort through the pitchers they already have to find that fifth starter, which is all a pitcher like Cobb would be with the Yankees.

Unless, of course, Brian Cashman has a package in mind containing a boatload of the starters on the above list that would constitute a deal for Giancarlo Stanton.

Oh, no. See, I just started another rumor. How about we just stay in the realm of reality and the players the Yankees already have, though? That should be enough for Brian Cashman to deal with.


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