Phillies Mailbag: Cobb, Kingery, Arrieta’s Timeline
We are back once again with a 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Each week we take your questions and talk about them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill on Tuesdays at 3:30.
If Phillies signed Alex Cobb their rotation would be Arrieta, Nola, Cobb, Velasquez and Eickoff 5th when he comes back and would be contenders for the Wild Card and make them more appealing to free agents next year. Is there any chance?
One of the more reliable starting pitchers over the last several years has been starting pitcher Alex Cobb. The Tampa Bay Rays offered Cobb arbitration heading into the offseason, which amounted to a one-year, $17.4 million contract. Cobb declined the offer and even on March 20, Cobb is still looking for a job. However, I do not think he will find one with the Phillies.
The biggest issue with signing Cobb is that the Phillies will have to forfeit yet another draft pick to sign him. The Phillies already surrendered their second round pick to sign Carlos Santana and then their third round pick to sign Jake Arrieta. To sign Cobb would mean they lose their fourth round pick. That is a lot to lose in three successive rounds of the draft.
After Arrieta's press conference last week, a few of us got to chat with Phillies general manager Matt Klentak for a few minutes. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com asked him if they might consider making more moves now that Arrieta was on board. Klentak said that he believed they were done. The one caveat was that things always can change, but Klentak does not seem to be interested in going down that road.
If Cobb sits out until June after the amateur draft, he would not have draft pick compensation attached. Who knows if the Phillies would jump in at that point should they find themselves with a major hole. Even though the Phillies are getting thinner in the starting pitching realm, they do not appear to be eager enough to forfeit the draft pick.
Cobb's situation may change things going forward. A player like Cobb might take the $17.4 million qualifying offer, knowing that the following year he cannot receive a qualifying offer again. Had he done so, he might be more appealing to teams next year. The Rays, who extended the $17.4 million offer initially, are not interested in re-signing Cobb.
Kingery played 3B the other day. Do you think they play him there, leave Hernandez at 2B and move on from Franco at 3B?
The Phillies continue to try to make second baseman Scott Kingery as versatile as possible. Kingery has played second base, shortstop, center field and some third base. However, none of that is likely to change Kingery's status right now.
The plan is likely for Kingery to continue to get experience around the diamond when the Triple-A season begins. Then, should the Phillies need any help at almost any position a few weeks later when Kingery's service time clock limits are exceeded to count 2018 as a year of service time, the Phillies would be able to slot him into that position.
The Phillies have no plans to do anything but see what Maikel Franco can do for the team to determine a path forward to the future. Many scouts believe in Franco's ability and the Phillies do not want to simply give up on an asset too soon. The Phillies do not wish to give up on Franco and see him succeed somewhere else.
Even if Franco demonstrates himself to be a starting third baseman in the league, the Phillies could keep him, or they still could move him if there is the right deal. Now that the Jake Arrieta rumors are over, the Manny Machado rumors likely will heat up. How they make room for Machado could go a number of ways and could involve a number of infielders being considered in a trade for other assets.
It probably would take Franco hitting under .200 at June 1 to have him replaced at this point. But Kingery will be ready in case of injury.
Do you think Jake Arrieta will be able to open the season with the Phillies?
Arrieta's late start certainly has an Opening Day timeline in doubt. Arrieta threw a simulated game on Saturday (instead of the minor league game he was going to pitch) and will make his Spring Training debut on Thursday. If Arrieta is successful on Thursday, the next time he might pitch on normal rest would be Tuesday the 27th, which also happens to be the Grapefruit League finale.
If Arrieta could go three or four innings Thursday and perhaps four or five on Tuesday of next week, he could pitch the Opening Series in Atlanta, or, after the Easter day off, on Monday April 2 in New York City against the Mets.
If need be, the Phillies could revisit what they did with Pedro Martinez. When the Phillies signed Martinez in July of 2009, he went to the disabled list. That gave them the opportunity to help build his arm strength through some "rehab" starts that included a visit to Advanced-A Clearwater, Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley for a start each.
If the Phillies think that Arrieta can give the club five innings in the opening week, they'll consider starting the season with him on the roster. However, Reading's first game is April 3 and Lehigh Valley's first game is April 6. Arrieta could stay in Clearwater for Extended Spring Training, too.
The Phillies are not committing to any course of action yet, however, as they hope to see how Arrieta pitches.