Fewer idioms are more trite and tired than “It is what it is,” but that’s perhaps the best way to describe Alex Cobb’s thoughts on what has thus far been a very disappointing free agency. Or at least that’s how he made it sound when he talked with the Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times last week.
“You’re full of excitement, you’re rushing into this thing like, ‘Oh, this is going to be a lot of fun, a great experience,'” Cobb told Topkin. “Then somewhere between November and December you realize how slow things are going and you kind of start reading the writing on the wall that this is a little bit of a different offseason than years before.
“Then you go through a little bit of a frustrating moment, frustrated with the process, frustrated with the way things are going. Then you kind of get to the point where you’re like, ‘Whatever. We’re all in this same boat together.’ You just kind of change your frame of mind to accepting the fact that this thing is going to go down to the wire and you get comfortable with that.”
I’ll leave it to you to determine whether the boat analogy applies more to a patchwork group of survivors set adrift in a lifeboat or a savvy bunch of swashbucklers united in solidarity, but I don’t really think Cobb is putting this in the context of the latter. After seeing what happened to Bleacher Nation’s Brett Taylor this past weekend, however, I think I should refrain from inferences of any sort.
The main thrust of the quotes above is that it sucks to head into the offseason knowing what you’re worth and expecting to be paid thusly, only to find out that no one’s willing to offer you that much. And in Cobb’s case, it was doubly disappointing.
All indications were that he’d end up with the Cubs, to the point that he and members of the staff spoke warmly of a potential reunion. But the Cubs’ three-year, $42 million offer came in well below both the years and dollars Cobb was expecting, so that must have stung a little bit. Then you’ve got all the stuff with Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, meaning the top of the market hasn’t been set. Nor has the floor really been established, since most of the this season’s free agents are still unsigned.
Cobb admitted that he hasn’t ruled anything out yet, telling Topkin that he has had serious conversations with 15 teams. He even said that going back to the Rays was a possibility, though you have to think that’d be the absolute worst-case scenario. Cobb already turned down a qualifying offer and it seems unlikely the Rays would even offer that same $18.4 million at this point, but there is at least some intrinsic value in the familiarity with the team and city and all that.
Surely the Cubs or another team would be able to push to at least $16 million AAV over three or four years, right? Maybe they’re really just waiting on Darvish, who recently received a contract offer from the Brewers, and Arrieta, who isn’t about to settle for less than four years at a steep AAV. Both top pitchers have something in the neighborhood of six teams in the hunt for their services, many of which overlap those pursuing Cobb.
It’s also likely that Cobb is comfortable with waiting to see what the Cubs end up doing. While the length and guaranteed money of his contract offer will weigh very heavily, we already discussed the open secret of Cobb’s affinity for the coaching staff in Chicago. There’s also the matter of joining a winner, which certainly makes the Cubs more attractive than, say, the Orioles.
“It’ll be very interesting to see the reasonings when all this is done, and kind of dissect it a little bit and get to figure out why the market was so slow this offseason,” Cobb said to Topkin. “Very interesting.”
Yeah, I’d say that’s putting it mildly. Even if you can’t find it in your heart and mind to feel bad for guys who will still make many millions of dollars no matter what happens with the market, you can at least admit that the pace of the offseason has been painful in other ways. For Cobb’s sake, and for the sake of all the others waiting to find out where they’ll be playing next season, I hope we can get this thing moving soon.